Fontiton remains the horse to beat in the Blue Diamond according to Mark Zahra after the Robert Smerdon-trained filly won Monday’s Preview for fillies at Sportingbet Park, reports Racing Network.


Zahra said Fontiton “peaked” about 100 metres out, but refused to let Haybay beat her as she rallied to post a neck victory.


On the strength of her narrow win — by a neck — in a time 0.19 seconds faster than Burnstone, whio won the Preview for colts and geldings, bookmakers tightened her price for the $1 million Blue Diamond. shortened Fontiton from $4.40 to $4 favourite for the Group 1 race on February 28.


Zahra said the filly was still a “little green” when he tried to settle her in behind the speed, but once she was smothered up she relaxed.


“I’d had enough about the 100 (metres). I quickened up really good, but I knew I didn’t have much left so I cuddled her for as long as I could,” Zahra said.


“She had a massive blow pulling up. She'll improve out of sight.


“We always knew today was going to be her hardest test because she really hadn’t done a lot except for one soft jumpout.


“It was good that she was able to come from behind, peel off their backs and quicken up.”


Stuart Webb, stable foreman for Smerdon, who is in New Zealand for the yearling sales, said the plan is to takeFontiton to the Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) at Caulfield on February 14. 


Stephen Baster said Haybay, who is not in the Blue Diamond, had improved from her win at Ballarat.


Co-trainer Tom Dabernig said Haybay would probably head towards the Chairman’s Stakes at Sportingbet Park on February 7.


Cory Parish said Take Pride, who finished 12th, was still “very green” as evidenced by the fact that she failed to handle to home corner.


Parish suggested that the filly would be better suited with the addition of blinkers.