Arden Lodge Stars in Sires Stakes Final

A breeding operation in West Otago was the toast of Alexandra Park tonight (May 2) after Arden Lodge provided the quinella in the Group One $150,000 Magness Benrow Sires Stakes Fillies Championship.

But it was the less-fancied Arden Banner, out of the Gareth Dixon stable, who provided an upset in the 1700m feature by leading all the way to score by a head over Arden's Darlin in 2.05.1.

The daughter of Christian Cullen returned $21.70 for a win, but the result was less of a surprise to Dixon and driver Peter Ferguson, who decided the front was the place to be.

The daughter of Christian Cullen returned $21.70 for a win, but the result was less of a surprise to Dixon and driver Peter Ferguson, who decided the front was the place to be.

"We've always known that she can run - even early on with those seconds she run, she put up a good effort," Ferguson said.

"But she's always drawn seven or eight and last week when she come out and I took hold, she bobbled - and the week before, she bobbled. I said to Gareth if she paces out and we get the chance, I'll be going. I know she's good enough and she proved the rest tonight.

"The guys are just rapt because she's very frustrating - you come out one week and pull your hair out and say 'I'm lucky I'm not the trainer' - it was a phenomenal effort (from Dixon)."

Arden Banner received pressure from Hemisphere from a lap out but when Hemisphere succumbed, Ferguson and Arden Banner still had to deal with the attention of last week's Sales Series winner, Arden's Darlin, who loomed up on the sticky track.

But Arden Banner had enough in reserve to see off the challenge, with the Geoff Small-trained Lauraella in behind the Arden pair.

Dixon was always confident despite the frustrations Arden Banner had provided.

"I've always thought she was as good as the better fillies," Dixon said.

"But the last two runs she's jumped out of her gear and we weren't 100 percent what the problem was. She's always shown enough ability to be right up there and she drew well tonight and led and the rest's history."

Dixon believes the best is yet to come with Arden Banner.

"She's always looked a little bit weak and that probably had a little bit to do with why she jumped out of her gear a couple of times - a little bit of growing pain."

Dixon is forging quite a record with age-grade fillies with Lizzie Maguire dominating the 3-Year-Old crop, not that he's getting complacent.

"It's always nice when you get a nice horse. You've got to have the animal, don't you?"