Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes winner Awesome Rock has come on well over the past fortnight according to co-trainer Troy Corstens who is hoping the Cox Plate-bound galloper can put it all together again in Saturday’s Underwood Stakes 2016.
The Fastnet Rock stallion was the hard luck story of the autumn when first past the post at Flemington in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on March 12, only to lose the elite level on protest to Preferment.
He finished last next start walking home behind Lucia Valentina in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) to round out a campaign full of disappointment, and was out of the money again first-up on August 13 when 10th in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m).
Getting back up to a mile second-up at Moonee Valley however the five-year-old improved sharply and enjoyed a big two length win at a $31 roughies’ price in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m).
That weight-for-age mile win earned Awesome Rock a ballot exemption for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), run back at the track on October 22 this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
The team confirmed plans to continue on the Cox Plate 2016 path with the honest galloper including his next-up run this weekend in the $500,000 Group 1 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m).
“He has come on since his win at Moonee Valley and really worked strong this week, suggesting he has improved, so let’s hope he can do it again on race day,” Corstens, who trains in partnership with his father Leon, told Racing Victoria this week.
Proven at weight-for-age, Awesome Rock has his regular rider Stephen Baster sticking in the saddle this weekend on Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes Day from barrier two of 10.
The Underwood Stakes field is down to 10 runners after a cut on his leg ruled the Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained Doomben Cup winner Our Ivanhowe out of the mix.
The Dato’ has produced the past two Underwood Stakes winners, but the last to complete the double Awesome Rock chases on Saturday was Northerly (2011).
Barrier two meanwhile produced Foreteller for his 2014 Underwood Stakes success just two years ago.
The latest Underwood Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au are led by the Darren Weir-trained Black Heart Bart ($2.40) who is firming despite going up in distance.
He was second as the beaten favourite behind stablemate Palentino in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last start, but with a moderately run race here he should have the speed to storm home late and post a third elite level victory.
Awesome Rock is the third favourite in Underwood Stakes betting at $6.50, sitting behind Kris Lees’ champion mare Lucia Valentina ($3.80).
As for the futures 2016 Cox Plate markets, Awesome Rock is at $41 to take out Australasia’s weight-for-age championship with the reigning champion Winx odds-on at $1.80.
She has won her past 11 starts on the trot including seven Group 1 wins and races again on Caulfield Guineas Day, October 8, the $600,000 Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
To back Awesome Rock this weekend and to check out the full pre-field Cox Plate betting odds head to Ladbrokes.com.au today!