His stay at the top of the leaderboard is likely to be brief, but Definitely Ready put his name up in lights with victory in the opening heat of the Essendon Mazda 55 Second Challenge at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
The Mark Kavanagh-trained speedster struck the first blow in the series that offers a BT-50 Mazda to the trainer of the horse who posts the fastest time across the 18 heats with an all-the-way win over the quirky 955-metre event.
The deteriorating slow track means his time of 56.68 is unlikely to last as the benchmark time for too long, but that mattered little to Kavanagh who was just happy to see him return to the winner’s stall after his career looked at the crossroads.
At his previous start, Definitely Ready was effectively pulled up after experiencing more throat issues.
“He had an ulcer in the back of his throat dislodge his soft palate which made him choke,” Kavanagh said of his previous start. “We were of the belief that his wind operation had re-collapsed, but that wasn’t to be.
“It’s pretty satisfying for a trainer to get a horse back from being hopeless last start to being in form like he is today. It’s pretty satisfying for us.”
The son of More Than Ready, a marked drifter from $3 to $5, was back to his brilliant best on Friday night, finding the lead in a race stacked with early pace before holding on to score a narrow head win over the fast-finishing Rocking Force ($16). Caplamp ($19) was a half neck away third.
Definitely Ready, who was ridden by Michael Rodd, completed a race-to-race double for Kavanagh, who earlier combined with Hall of Fame jockey Damien Oliver to win the $150,000 Group 3 TBV/Gallagher Bassett Champagne Stakes (1200m) with Miss Stellabelle.
The daughter of Dehere made it two wins from as many starts this time in following a Bendigo maiden win when she came from last on the fence just before straightening to win running away from Platelet and Miss Zoom.
Miss Stellabelle has become yet another high-quality filly to emerge from Kavanagh’s Flemington yard, which is also home to Thousand Guineas favourite Atlantic Jewel and Sunday’s Edward Manifold Stakes favourite Celebrity Girl.
Kavanagh said the best of Miss Stellabelle wouldn’t be seen until the second half of the 2011/12 racing season, however.
“She’s jumped from a maiden to a Group 3 and only good horses do that,” Kavanagh said. “We won’t overdo it, we’ll keep in mind that there’s plenty left in the tank for the autumn.”