There won't have been a more wilful winner at Flemington on Saturday than Zurella, and there might not be many who are better.
One of New Zealand's best staying three-year-olds of last season, Zurella behaved disgracefully and ran magnificently to win the Group Two Let's Elope Stakes (1400m) and take a step toward a Caulfield Cup start.
As comfortably as Zurella handled her opposition, she still managed to provide some anxious moments, refusing to permit her rider Craig Newitt to mount.
"She's a beautiful mare ... but she's bloody hard to handle," said trainer Shaune Ritchie.
"If you're not careful she can kick and do some real damage."
As a result, Ritchie sought permission to take Zurella onto the track after the rest of the field had left the enclosure and Newitt chased her out of the mounting yard and was legged aboard in front of the winning post.
"At the end of the day she's a tart," Ritchie said.
Newitt happily overlooked the mild indignity after the race, declaring Zurella an outstanding racehorse.
"She is very, very good," the jockey said.
"They went slow early and she just dropped her head and when I asked she just barged her way out and attacked the line.
"There'll be a lot more for her this spring."
Zurella has already proved herself at the 2400m of the Caulfield Cup having finished a nose behind her stablemate Artistic when second in the New Zealand Oaks.
She also won the Group Two Sir Tristram Stakes (2200m) in February and was fifth in the New Zealand Derby.
Zurella ($10) came from near last to score by three-quarters-of-a-length from Hi Belle ($8.50) with a head to Total Attraction ($7) in third.
She is likely to have her next run in the Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield in two weeks in an attempt to qualify for the Caulfield Cup.