Avantage (Fastnet Rock) winning the G3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings

Successful Return for Champion Fastnet Rock Filly

Last season’s champion New Zealand 2YO Avantage (3f Fastnet Rock x Asavant, by Zabeel) was back doing what she does best when she opened her three-year-old season with a winning performance at Hastings.

She was only beaten once in six starts during her juvenile campaign where she captured the rich Listed Karaka Million (1200m) before going on to score at Group I level in the Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (1400m).

Put aside following that Awapuni triumph the Jamie Richards trained filly resumed with a quiet run at the Te Rapa trials last month before tackling Saturday’s Group III Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) as her season opener.

After securing the coveted one barrier draw Avantage was sent out a warm favourite by punters with the well fancied local filly Xpression expected to pose her biggest threat. That scenario played out exactly as predicted as the pair set down to a tooth and nail struggle over the final stages of the contest with Avantage putting her head in front where it mattered most to score a narrow victory.

“She’s such a racehorse and has the heart of a lion,” rider Danielle Johnson said.

“There’s tonnes of improvement in her with this just being her first run since her two-year-old campaign.

“She’s got an exciting season ahead of her.”

Her trainer Jamie Richards was well satisfied.

“She’s a champion filly who has come back in really good order,” he said.

“I had talked up the second horse all week, as I think she’s a serious filly, so you’ve seen two promising horses.

“We were probably half a stride slow so had to use her up early which told a bit at the finish first-up but she will improve a lot from that.”

Richards will now sit down with Te Akau Racing boss David Ellis to determine the path ahead for the filly who is being set for a tilt at the Group I gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November.

Avantage was a $210,000 purchase by Ellis from The Oaks Stud draft during the premier session of the 2017 National Yearling Sale at Karaka. She has now won six races for her owners, the Te Akau Avantage Syndicate and in excess of $806,000 in prizemoney.