Team Corstens have won the Golden Ticket into the Cox Plate 2016 with a brilliant Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes win by the underrated weight-for-age performer Awesome Rock.
The Fastnet Rock stallion was first past the post in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington in the autumn but lost the race on protest to Preferment.
The now five-year-old began to atone for that heartbreak however with his first victory since November of 2015, winning the $250,000 Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at big odds at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
First-up Awesome Rock finished 3.4 lengths back 10th to Miss Rose De Lago in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 13.
With three weeks between runs the horse showed sharp improvement into the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes where he was partnered by his regular rider and number one fan Stephen Baster who enjoyed the feature race double at Moonee Valley after his earlier win on Wild Rain in the McEwen Stakes.
“He’s given me one of my greatest moments in racing and one of my greatest heartbreaks too,” Baster said of Awesome Rock post-win on Saturday referring to the Australian Cup.
“He’s up there as one of my favourite horses I’ve ever ridden.”
Jumping from barrier two in the Dato’, Baster got his mount into a lovely mid-field position and bid his time as the races dual defending champion The Cleaner won the battle for the early lead to hit the front.
He led from the Darren Weir-trained Mahuta while the P.B. Lawrence Stakes winner Miss Rose De Lago moved forward into third, later dropping off to finish last.
Japanese raider Tosen Stardom meanwhile was getting no run mid-field caught up in his first run for the Weir stable.
On the straight Awesome Rock started with his run hitting the lead with 100m to go, while Weir’s former Perth Cup winning mare Real Love was also running on very nicely.
At the end it was all about Awesome Rock ($31) who posted a dominant victory over the resuming Real Love ($34) who was excellent first-up over the mile with improvement to come as she gets out over more metres deeper into her spring prep.
The Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes trifecta was rounded out by Ciaron Maher’s former Oaks winner Set Square ($21) in a juicy payout with the first three over the line all at double-figures.
Tosen Stardom ($7.50) crossed fourth in a good return, while The Cleaner ran fifth failing to become just the second triple Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes winner in history.
“I didn’t think he could win,” Baster admitted after the upset on Awesome Rock.
“To his credit he’s a race day horse. He puts in 100% and I was lucky I got a beautiful run on him today.
“I planned on box seating but he didn’t begin brilliant.
“The further he went though, the stronger he got.
“He put them away.”
Awesome Rock is now guaranteed entry into the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) back at the track on October 22, and co-trainer Troy Corstens said they were back on track to target Australasia’s weight-for-age classic.
“I think he’s just saving it for race day, he annihilated them,” he said of the Dato’ result.
“He’s got the ability there and we’ve had him in for the Cox Plate the whole way along.
“He needed to do something like this.
“The goal posts have changed a little bit I think. We were starting to think the Emirates Stakes [at Flemington over 2000m] on the final day [of the Melbourne Cup Carnival].
“We’ll shift it back to the Cox Plate now and have a crack and see how we go.
“It’s more satisfying that the horse is showing what he’s got.
“He’s made really good improvement and I really think he’s got more improvement to come.”
Corstens is remaining realistic about their Cox Plate chances however in the face of the defending champion Winx and today’s Chelmsford Stakes winner in Sydney Hartnell looming as the big dangers.
“She’s a super star,” Corstens said of Winx.
“And even Hartnell looked good today.
“We’re going to possibly the best weight-for-age 2000m race in the world.
“We’ve got the Golden Ticket and we’re going in.”
To check out the updated Cox Plate odds and back Awesome Rock next race at the right price visit Ladbrokes.com.au now!
2016 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Moonee Valley Race 8 – 03/09/2016
|1||7||AWESOME ROCK||Leon & Troy Corstens||Stephen Baster||–||2||59kg||$31|
|2||11||REAL LOVE||Darren Weir||Chris Parnham||2L||7||57kg||$41|
|3||13||SET SQUARE||Ciaron Maher||Luke Nolen||2.75L||9||57kg||$20|
|4||1||TOSEN STARDOM (JPN)||Darren Weir||John Allen||2.85L||5||59kg||$7.50|
|5||3||THE CLEANER||Peter Gelagotis||Steven Arnold||3.25L||11||59kg||$12|
|6||2||THE UNITED STATES (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Ms Katelyn Mallyon||3.75L||8||59kg||$6.50F|
|7||14||JAMEKA||Ciaron Maher||Craig Williams||3.85L||12||56.5kg||$8.50|
|8||4||JACQUINOT BAY||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Damian Lane||4.35L||3||59kg||$21|
|9||6||EXCESS KNOWLEDGE (GB)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Ryan Maloney||5.1L||4||59kg||$17|
|10||10||SUAVITO (NZ)||Nigel Blackiston||Michael Walker||5.85L||10||57kg||$9|
|11||9||TAVAGO (NZ)||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Ben Melham||5.95L||6||58.5kg||$9|
|12||8||MAHUTA||Darren Weir||Michael Dee (a)||6.05L||13||58.5kg||$11|
|13||5||SIGNOFF (IRE)||Darren Weir||Harry Coffey||7.8L||1||59kg||$31|
|14||12||MISS ROSE DE LAGO||Danny O’Brien||Damien Oliver||13.8L||14||57kg||$7.50|
|–||15e||ENTIRELY PLATINUM (NZ)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||–||0||–||–|