He was an acceptor for Geelong on Sunday, but connections elected to throw talented gelding Amah Rock (3g Fastnet Rock x Gainesville, by Afleet) into the deep end at Moonee Valley on Saturday in the Listed MVRC McKenzie Stakes with happy results all round.
The Peter Morgan trained son of Fastnet Rock broke his maiden with a narrow win at Echuca on August 1 and despite tackling stakes company at just his second race start, the powerful bay emerged triumphant.
He enjoyed a perfect run in transit for Danny Nikolic from barrier one and when the split came at the top of the straight, Amah Rock surged into top gear and cruised up to the leader Hot Spin (3g Spinning World x Raging Inferno, by Belong to Me) to score a half length win in the 1200 metre sprint.
“He is a good horse, this horse,” said Nikolic, who won the Caulfield Guineas aboard Starspangledbanner in 2009 and is keen to stick with Amah Rock for the spring.
“He is the type of horse that might even be able to win a Caulfield Guineas.
“He is a lot different (to Starspangledbanner) as Starspangledbanner knew what he was doing and this one has got no idea what he is doing.
“He has got a great temperament. He will be my Caulfield Guineas ride, he is a ripper.”
Amah Rock has now won each of his two starts earning $67,825 with a big payday looming if he can win the Group I MRC Caulfield Guineas on October 8.
“I know the Caulfield Guineas is still a fair way off and that was only his second start in a race,” Nikolic said.
“He travelled like the winner, he has got that really good cruising speed where he can just idle.
“They are good class horses. He is not going to meet much better than that and I think he is only going to get better once he gets up over 1400 and a mile.”
Raced by a syndicate of eight owners including Bruce Mathieson and Michael Christian, Amah Rock was a $200,000 purchase for Dean Hawthorne Bloodstock from the Tyreel Stud draft at the 2010 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale and is the 11th foal and 11th winner from top producer Gainesville (Can), who died in 2008 with Amah Rock her last foal.
By the Mr Prospector horse Afleet, Gainesville is also the dam of Group III winner Mica’s Pride (dam of Group II winner Varenna Miss and stakes-winner Silently), stakes-placed Money Begets Money and Joleur, the dam of stakes-winners Bhutane Dane and Gaze On.
Amah Rock is the 19th stakes-winner for Fastnet Rock, who was represented by another smart winner earlier on the program at Moonee Valley.
Off the scene for the best part of a year, talented mare Zaira (5m Fastnet Rock x Shelbourne Lass, by Brocco) burst back to top form when she cruised home to win in dominant fashion over 1200 metres.
A homebred for Gerry Ryan’s Limerick Lane Thoroughbreds, the Hawkes Racing trained Zaira was stepping out for the first time in 39 weeks, but was well tuned for this assignment and raced accordingly.
She scored by two and a quarter lengths, taking her overall record to five wins from eight starts with prizemoney of $133,813.
“We thought she was going to go early at two, but then she started growing and was all out of shape, so she’s needed time to come back to herself, but she’s always had ability,” said Wayne Hawkes
“She’s a five year-old now and still hasn’t hit her peak, so we’ll be looking for some Black Type for her.”
Zaira is a half-sister to Group III winner Elusive Touch from the good producer and Group III winner Shelbourne Lass.
Limerick Lane sold a full brother to Zaira at the 2011 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale for $220,000 and the mare is due to foal to Encosta de Lago this spring.