An impressive barrier trial at Randwick on Monday was the first step towards the 2012 Melbourne Spring Carnival for Darren Smith-trained sprinter Atomic Force.
With star Sydney jockey Nash Rawiller in the saddle, Atomic Force ran strongly over 830 metres, beating home Epsom Handicap winner Secret Admirer by three quarters of a length.
The son of Danehill Dancer has not raced in Australia since November last year, having most recently being seen in the Group 1 Railways Stakes and the Telegraph Handicap in New Zealand in January.
Turning seven on Wednesday, Atomic Force tasted Group 1 success in the Railway Stakes, the second of his career after winning the Galaxy at Randwick last year.
While the exact spring schedule is yet to be defined, connections are confident the experienced gelding is in good condition heading towards Melbourne.
“We could have pressed on with him in the autumn but he had a few little niggles and we decided that he had been good to us, so we would be good to him,” Dynamic Syndications’ Dean Watt said.
“He has come back great and is actually in front of where we thought he would be.
“Nash (Rawiller) got off him this morning and was very happy with how he felt.”
With Black Caviar this morning ruled out of the entire spring carnival, the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) has become an attractive target for a number of the country’s best sprinters.
Watts admitted the absence of the champion mare as well as fellow star Hay List provided greater opportunities for Atomic Force in both the Manikato Stakes and Patinack Farm Classic.
“I have a great respect for Buffering, who has chased those two great horses home in the autumn, and you have to be impressed by Sea Siren in Brisbane in the winter but other than them it drops away pretty quick,” Watts said.
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