David Payne's plan for consecutive Victoria Derby wins has moved a little closer with Tarka's hard-fought victory in the Stan Fox Stakes at Rosehill.
The trainer has mapped out the same program for Tarka and Toulouse as he did last year with Ace High, winner of the 2017 Spring Champion Stakes and the Derby.
Toulouse failed to handle Saturday's heavy Rosehill track as well as Tarka ($19) who lunged at Dealmaker ($7.50) to get the decision by a short half head at the end of a tough 1500m.
Favourite The Autumn Sun ($2.40) was another 1-1/4 lengths third.
"He is only a little horse and he keeps surprising me," Payne said.
"He is from the same family as Honorius so he will stay all day.
"He'll head to the Gloaming next and then on to the Spring Champion. He just keeps on getting better."
Payne trained Honorius who won up to 2000 metres and finished third to Hawkspur in the 2013 Queensland Derby.
Winning jockey James McDonald was also aboard when Tarka won over 1600m at Warwick Farm last time out carrying 61kg.
"I couldn't believe everyone gave this horse no chance," he said.
"I said to my manager it's not easy for a three-year-old to win with 61kg.
"He had so much improvement and he's really toughed it out today. He could be a real Derby horse.
"He's got so much untapped potential."
The Autumn Sun's jockey Kerrin McEvoy viewed the film of the home turn believing Tarka may have shifted out on him but did not lodge a protest.
The riders of several other runners said their mounts failed to handle the ground but Hugh Bowman was happy with Dealmaker.
"I was delighted with him," he said.
"He's a progressive type of horse and the best is still ahead of him."
- Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
- Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times
- Reading Mode