Hardham wins Alister Clark Stakes

Hardham trumped market fancies Farson and Ruthven to win the Group 2 William Hill Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night with Luke Nolen carrying some familiar silks across the line in doing so.

Hardam and Luke Nolen, picture

Among the ownership of the Redoute's Choice colt is Peter Moody and wife Sarah, and while not trackside, they would have savoured another win in the race having saluted with the same white-and-blue colours in 2012 when Moody trained Highly Recommended to win the race.

That result five years back was the first of successive Alister Clark wins for Nolen - albeit his second aboard the Mick Kent-trained Philippi in 2013 was won only after Hvasstan was later disqualified due to a positive swab.

And it was Nolen's masterful ride that brought about the downfall of who the market considered the two live chances in the race, in the Ciaron Maher-trained Ruthven and Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Farson.

Hardham, who was back in grade from the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) on a Heavy 10 when 6.8 lengths seventh, was much better on top of the ground on Friday night.

That slump in the wet hasn't deterred Moody's good mate and trainer David Brideoake from heading back north, with the Mornington horseman forecasting a trip back north for the Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m) during The Championships - but did concede the improvement came in the horse being on drier ground.

Hardham was just the third double-figure chance to win the race in 30 years - Bar Landy ($10, 1989) and Pre Eminence ($17, 2009) the others.

In other news from Friday's programme Beau Mertens is having a breakout season, and on Friday night, he broke through for the first time in a stakes race, riding Bassett to a comprehensive win in the Sweeney Estate Agents Abell Stakes (1200m) at The Valley.

Mertens' 38th Melbourne metro winner of the 2016-17 season saw him get on the board in black-type company, and didn't he enjoy it - the 19-year-old apprentice had enough time for a fist pump on the line as he rode the Mick Price-trained on-pacer to a 2.25-length victory from a bunch finish for the minors.

His form this season has led to opportunities in Group 1 company in recent weeks - he rode 300-1 shot Aegean Sea in the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield in February, and also Abbey Marie for boss Mick Kent in last week's Coolmore Classic at Rosehill.

Beau's father Peter is a Group 1-winning jockey, and the apprentice's career is certainly headed in a similar direction.

Bassett and Beau Mertens, picture