Champion trainer Gai Waterhouse was in the winner’s circle early at Randwick on Saturday with talented colt Valentia (2c Fastnet Rock x Smart Company, by Mister C) confirming his potential with a stylish victory in the Group II ATC Skyline Stakes.
Third on debut to subsequent stakes-winner Rubick on January 25, Valentia won his next start at Randwick last month and was well fancied for this Golden Slipper lead up.
Bad behaviour at the barriers from another runner in A Time for War resulted in Valentia breaking through the gates, but Tommy Berry was able to restrain him and he duly took his place after the late scratching of A Time for War.
The pre-race incident had no detrimental effect on Valentia, who tracked the leaders and then moved up three wide to challenge before going on to take the 1200 metre dash by half a length.
“It was a top win, although he idled a bit when he got to the front, but Tommy (Berry) kept him going,” said part-owner and Coolmore General Manager Michael Kirwan.
“It was a great result and you have to be happy with that.
“The Slipper is a possibility, but we will wait and see how he pulls up.”
Raced by Coolmore and partners, Valentia was the highest priced offering at the Gold Coast Magic Millions in 2013, purchased for $1.35 million from the Lomar Park draft.
A half-brother to stakes-placed Divine Choice, Valentia is the third winner from Smart Company, a full sister to Group I winner Super Elegant, Group II winner Elegancy and Group III winner Mister Elegant.
Fastnet Rock made it a trans-Tasman stakes double when Neena Rock (5m Fastnet Rock x Feminine Wiles, by Miesque’s Son) took out the Group III Cuddle Stakes over 1600 metres at Trentham in New Zealand.
It was a career best performance for the Warren Bolton trained mare, who has won four races and placed second six times from 13 starts.
An $80,000 Inglis Premier purchase from the draft of Shady Lane Thoroughbreds, Neena Rock is the best of five winners from Feminine Wiles, a half-sister to Group I winner and sire Quiet American.
Valentia and Neena Rock are the 57th and 58th stakes-winners for champion sire Fastnet Rock, who has over 50 entries for the 2014 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.