Punters were banking on a colt maintaining its unbeaten record in the opening Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Preview (1000m) at Caulfield on Australia Day, but it wasn’t highly touted duo Golden Archer and Bossdon City who emerged unscathed.
Sporting the Australia Day colours, Sepoy ($8) made it from two wins from as many appearances with a runaway 3.5 length victory in the Listed $100,000 feature.
The performance not only saw the Peter Snowden-trained colt rocket to the top of betting charts for the Blue Diamond Stakes on 26 February, but move into the hot seat for a tilt at a $1m bonus.
The newly introduced bonus is on offer for any horse that can make a clean sweep of the Blue Diamond series by winning a Preview, a Prelude (12 February) and ultimately the $1m Blue Diamond Stakes.
“He shouldn’t have been $8,” declared a buoyant Snowden in the winner’s circle.
“He’s a lovely horse, got good race sense and he’s got natural ability. He was only a veteran of one run but he handles himself really well as he showed.”
With Albury visitor Bossdon City ($5) showing good speed to lead, Sepoy sat third one off the fence with odds-on favourite Golden Archer ($1.70) stalking him throughout.
Sepoy, a son of Elusive Quality, idled up outside the leader upon turning and when jockey Mark Zahra asked for the supreme effort he responded in emphatic fashion.
Second across the line was the fast finishing Grand Britannia ($18), with Golden Archer, who is likely to have blinkers fitted next start, a half-length further back in third.
Sepoy’s winning time was 57.67sec – marginally quicker than the 57.85sec time posted by One Last Dance when claiming the Fillies Preview 35 minutes later.
“When Mark gave him the squeeze at the furlong he responded really well and had that race won a long way out,” Snowden said.
“He’s got the ability to jump and put himself there and he relaxes so well.”
Sepoy will continue his pursuit of the $1m bonus in the Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Colts & Geldings Prelude (1100m) at Caulfield on 12 February – the opening meeting of the 2011 Melbourne Festival of Racing.