Long Leaf (Fastnet Rock) winning the $1million Karaka 3YO Classic at Ellerslie

Fastnet Rock Colt Wins $1million Karaka 3YO Classic

New Zealand ex-pat jockey James McDonald made a winning return to his favourite track on Saturday when he was able to ride home talented Long Leaf (3c Fastnet Rock x Frustrating, by Stravinsky) to win the $1million Karaka 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie.

The David, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig-trained colt was favoured by punters heading into the race and did not disappoint.

McDonald settled the three-year-old midfield before tracking Media Sensation from the 900m mark. He then drew his charge into the clear at the top of the straight where battled hard to the line to win by a neck.

Long Leaf was purchased out of Curraghmore’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale draft by BBA Ireland for $750,000 and carried the colours of part-owner Coolmore to victory on Saturday.

“It’s a great thrill for connections, with Sir Peter Vela and the Coolmore boys,” McDonald said. “He’s a super horse and we got the result.”

McDonald said it was exciting to be back racing on his favourite track on one the biggest race days on the New Zealand calendar.

“This is one of my favourite tracks out of everywhere I have ridden,” McDonald said. “To get a result for this team has been a great thrill.

“I haven’t ridden here for three years and everything has changed, the stables look magnificent.”

Co-owner Sir Peter Vela, who has been a long-time supporter of McDonald, said he was delighted with the win and for his jockey.

“I am thrilled for him (McDonald) and for all the group that own him,” Vela said. “He gave it a peach of a ride and I’m just delighted for him to get the accolade.”

Foaled and raised at Coolmore in Australia, Long Leaf was a two time stakes-winner at two and is from winning Stravinsky (USA) mare Frustrating, a daughter of blue hen Parfore, the dam of Group I winners Terravista and Tiger Tees, as well as Group II winner Ball of Muscle, Singapore Horse of the Year and sire Super Easy and the multiple Listed Stakes winner Our Lukas.

Frustrating produced another colt by Fastnet Rock last year and is back in foal to the champion sire.