A former sparring partner of Winx, who she beat to win the Group I ATC Flight Stakes in 2014, quality mare First Seal (4m Fastnet Rock x Episode, by Scenic) was back to her very best when scoring a barnstorming win in the Group II ATC Millie Fox Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday.
Sidelined through injury during the spring carnival, her trainer John Thompson has been forced to be patient in the extreme and his efforts are paying off.
More than 10 months since her last official race start, First Seal swept down the outside under the 58kg topweight to claim a three-quarter length victory in the 1300 metre sprint over Telepathic.
With Blake Shinn back in the saddle for the first time since a narrow defeat in the Group I ATC Coolmore Classic last March, First Seal displayed the turn of speed reminiscent of her three-year-old season.
“It’s such a relief,” Thompson said.
“Blake and I sat down and had a chat about an hour before the race and I just said don’t panic just ride her to hit the line, we know she’ll improve off the back of this run.
“And I’ve got to say I was worried at the 800 (metres), I didn’t think we’d be that far back but they we’re getting along and she got it done – it was a good effort.”
A $700,000 NZB Premier purchase from the Curraghmore Stud draft for the late Bart Cummings, First Seal runs for a powerful group of owners that includes China Horse Club, Raffles Thoroughbred Racing and Think Big Stud.
First Seal has the overall record of five wins and five seconds from 12 starts with prizemoney topping $940,000.
Bred by Raffles Dancers, First Seal is a three-quarter sister to Group II STC Tulloch Stakes winner Book of Kells and is the seventh winner for Episode, who won both the Group I SAJC Australasian Oaks and South Australian Oaks as well as finishing second in the Queensland Oaks.
She is the ninth Australian stakes-winner this season for champion sire Fastnet Rock, who has a dozen entries for the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale starting next Sunday in Melbourne.