The graveyard of short-priced Guineas favourites has done it again, the Caulfield track this time claiming the champion Sydney colt Pierro.
One of the shortest-priced favourites ever to run in the Group One Caulfield Guineas (1600m), Pierro ($1.22) failed to hold off All Too Hard ($12) in a boilover that reshaped the Cox Plate markets and temporarily silenced his trainer Gai Waterhouse.
"The other horse was just better on the day," Waterhouse said.
"It's happened before.
The most notable precedent was in 1979 when the champion of his day, Kingston Town, finished third in the Guineas as an odds-on favourite.
Since then such stars as Sir Dapper in 1983 and So You Think in 2009 have gone into the race as hot favourites only to be turned over.
As the Pierro camp attempted to come to grips with defeat, the training triumvirate of John Hawkes and his sons Michael and Wayne savoured the triumph of perseverance over the adversity and disappointment that had surrounded All Too Hard, the little brother of champion sprinter Black Caviar.
"I said all along that if he brought his A game to the races he could beat Pierro," Wayne Hawkes said.
"He did it, I knew he could and he has."
For John Hawkes the win was his 100th at Group One level and one of the most satisfying.
"We've had our problems with him, that's no secret," Hawkes snr said.
The team changed "a few bits and pieces" with All Too Hard's preparation and his gear, most notably adding a barrier blanket to his raceday kit in an effort to overcome his poor barrier manners.
"It worked with Black Caviar so we thought we'd try it," Hawkes said.
Even with the blanket to calm him, All Too Hard began slowly, settling at the tail of the eight-horse field.
Dwyane Dunn kept him there until the 400m where he moved wide and allowed the colt to find his rhythm.
As confident as he was that All Too Hard would finish the race off, Dunn said he had almost resigned himself to running second when he asked for the supreme effort.
"Second was going to be a great result for us," Dunn said.
"But Pierro started getting tired and I could see we were pulling him in."
Before the Guineas Pierro had been the $1.85 favourite for Saturday week's Cox Plate.
After the race he was at $2.70 with Sportsbet while All Too Hard had firmed from $33 to $6.
The New Zealander Ocean Park is second favourite at $4.50.
Waterhouse confirmed that Pierro would continue to the Moonee Valley race.
"Why wouldn't he," she said.
"Don't worry, he's still a champion.
"There's plenty here who would want him in their barn".