Awesome Effort Has Entire Between A Rock And A Winx Place

Awesome Rock ridden by Stephen Baster wins Dato' Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley Racecourse on September 03, 2016 in Moonee Ponds, Australia. (Michael Dodge/Racing Photos via Getty Images)


Nothing can make up for seeing your horse first past the post in a Group One, only to lose it in the stewards’ room. Well, almost nothing.

Awesome Rock lived right up to the first half of his name with an outstanding performance in the Group Two Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley on Saturday and, by doing so, has gained automatic entry into next month’s $3,050,000 WS Cox Plate … and a likely showdown with super mare, Winx.

Back in March, Awesome Rock ‘won’ the Australian Cup, resulting in his owners producing a gold medal performance for mounting yard celebrations. All too soon though, ecstasy had turned to despair when a protest was lodged and Awesome Rock was subsequently relegated to second.

“It was heartbreaking to say the least,” Brad Spicer points out. “It’s not something you get over in a hurry but to win a race like the Dato Tan is a just reward for Awesome Rock’s connections.”

Spicer, principal of the successful syndication outfit – Spicer Thoroughbreds – and a close friend of trainers Leon and Troy Corstens, purchased Awesome Rock as a yearling for $575,000 at the 2013 Gold Coast Magic Millions and was impressed from the first time he saw the colt.

“He’s just a fantastic individual … outstanding,” Spicer adds. “He had all the hallmarks of becoming a very good middle distance horse. Great temperament too and therefore, hasn’t had to suffer the ultimate gear change.

“I purchased him on behalf of Stan Saric and then a couple of other long-time clients came up to me and asked if they could buy in.

“He won at two, ran second in the VRC Sires’ and was shaping up to be a genuine Caulfield Guineas chance – especially after a good third in the Guineas Prelude – and Henry Field of Newgate Farm purchased 20% of the horse as a stallion prospect.

“Aside from the fact he’s by Fastnet Rock, he’s also out of a 3-time stakes winning and Group One placed mare in Awesome Planet. A lot of good horses in that family: Dr Devious, Royal Court and Archway – all sires – plus the English Oaks winner in Dancing Rain.

“Unfortunately, Awesome Rock cut his hock really badly and was off the scene for over six months.

“He ran second in the Coongy and won a stakes race on Cup Day last spring so naturally there were a lot of very happy folk when he hit the line in the Australian Cup.

“That’s the way it goes sometimes, but the win on Sunday was very encouraging. No-one is deluding themselves about the job ahead. I reckon the Australian Cup has proven just what a good horse he is over the mile and a quarter, but up against the likes of Winx …?

“The original plan was to run him in the Mackinnon but as Troy mentioned after Saturday’s race, the goalposts have shifted following the Dato and we’ve got a “golden ticket” for the Cox Plate.

“I said to Henry (Field) that he should find a buyer for Winx and retire her to stud right away to give our bloke a clearer run at the Cox Plate, but I somehow think that won’t be an option!

“Hey, you’ve got to be in it to win it and stranger things have happened.”

Stranger things have happened and if fortune does smile on Spicer & co at Moonee Valley on 22 October, expect to see those Australian Cup celebrations put to shame.

The Power of Passion