Champion sire Fastnet Rock added a 32nd Group I winner to his tally when classy colt Age of Fire (3c Fastnet Rock x Dragon’s Tail, by Galileo) captured the Group I Levin Classic at Trentham in New Zealand on Saturday.
Leading rider Opie Bosson once again showed why he is such an important player for the Te Akau team with another man of the match performance aboard the progressive colt at Trentham.
The 37-year-old produced an outstanding ride to guide Age Of Fire to victory in the 1600 metre feature.
After jumping from an inside gate, he was stuck four back on the rail, but Bosson kept his cool and was able to ease away from the fence into the clear across the top.
The strapping colt let down impressively in the straight to win by a long neck over talented fillies Belle Du Nord and Savvy Coup.
“That’s why he’s paid the big retainer,” said Jamie Richards, who trains in partnership with Stephen Autridge. “He’s a lovely, big horse and he pinned his ears back, he was in for the fight.”
The stable’s number one jockey was having his first race day ride on Age Of Fire, but Bosson had been in a confident pre-race mood.
“He is a lovely colt and his work in the last few weeks had been outstanding,” he said. “He’s a big horse, but light on his feet.
“I was a little bit worried across the top when there wasn’t much speed, but once I got into the clear he showed that powerful finish.
“Well done to Stephen and Jamie and the team – another Group One for the tangerine.”
A $400,000 Inglis Easter purchase for David Ellis from the Erinvale Thoroughbreds draft, Age Of Fire shares favouritism for the Group I Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at $7 with Demonetization and he is now likely to take on the older horses ahead of the Ellerslie classic.
“My gut feeling is that we’ll go to the Herbie Dyke Stakes to give him another chance at a Group One,” Richards said, referring to the weight-for-age feature at Te Rapa on February 10.
Second in the Group I New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas, Age of Fire has the overall record of three wins and three placings from six starts with this victory his first in a Black Type race.
Foaled and raised at Coolmore, Age of Fire is the best of three winners from Dragon’s Tail, an unraced daughter of Coolmore legend Galileo from the European family of Champion Miler Fly to the Stars.
“Fastnet Rock had a great year in 2017 with 29 Stakes winners and now he has started 2018 with a bang,’’ Coolmore Australia’s Stud Manager Jim Carey said.
“It’s an amazing result for David Ellis and his team at Te Akau. David has been telling us that he thinks this horse was top class and he was vindicated in that view today.
“He is a horse with huge scope for improvement and he might just be a very good one.’’
Erinvale’s John Kenneally knew from the moment he saw Age Of Fire he was a star in the making.
“He was as good as any horse I’ve ever sold,’’ Kenneally said.
“He was a magnificent-looking animal, not too heavy, very athletic with a big walk and he’s a Fastnet, so he was always going to be popular.’’
He is the sixth Group I winner for champion sire Fastnet Rock from a daughter of Coolmore’s legendary Galileo, that direct cross also producing 15 stakes-winners in total and achieving 26.3% stakes-winners to runners.
Dragons Tail has never been to a stallion other than Fastnet Rock and has a yearling filly to be offered at the NZB Premier Yearling Sale as Lot 172 by Hallmark Stud.
She produced another filly by him last spring and was then covered by him again.
Fastnet Rock also featured at the Gold Coast on Magic Millions race day with his son Tumultuous (4g Fastnet Rock x Boisterous Lady, by Rivotious) scoring a thrilling win in the $1million Magic Millions Trophy over 2200 metres.
Trained by Chris Waller, Tumultuous has won four of 21 starts earning over $700,000 in prizemoney.