Gai Waterhouse admitted to some uncustomary nerves before Saturday’s return to racing by Pierro but the unbeaten colt put them to rest in a few strides as he waltzed away with the Run To The Rose.
The much-hyped battle between Pierro and All Too Hard failed to eventuate with the son of Lonhro stretching his record to seven from seven, ridden to the line with consummate ease by Nash Rawiller to assume Cox Plate favouritism.
“I have to admit I was even a little nervous today,” Waterhouse said.
“I wasn’t going to start him if I didn’t think he could wipe the floor with these horses.
“He is an outstanding, outstanding colt. He is Australia’s best by far.”
When betting opened on the Group Three race earlier in the week, Pierro went up at $2.20 with All Too Hard pressing at $2.50.
Punters were on the right track with Pierro starting the $1.55 favourite and All Too Hard out to $4.80 on race day and barely raising a whimper, finishing fifth of the six runners.
After jumping well, Pierro got into stride quickly to sit outside the leader Ashokan ($31).
He ambled up in the straight to hit the front and stride away to beat Your Song ($17) by 1-1/4 lengths with Epaulette ($8) an identical margin third.
“He was awesome,” Rawiller said.
“It took a while to get in his rhythm and then he ambled up and it was game over.
“He has come back a much more professional horse.”
Waterhouse reaffirmed Pierro would not run in the $1 million Golden Rose (1400m) in two weeks with Nechita now favourite for the season’s first Group One.
“Pierro will go to the Bill Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley,” she said.
“I have Kabayan, who was narrowly beaten in Melbourne (on Saturday), for the Golden Rose.
“I wasn’t going to run them against each other today.”
Kabayan finished a head second to outsider Lady Harrods in the Group Three McNeil Stakes at Caulfield.
All Too Hard, who like Nechita is owned by Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm, has eased to be the second elect for the Golden Rose.
His jockey Dwayne Dunn said he raced like he needed further than the 1200 metres while co-trainer John Hawkes said he just wasn’t good enough on the day.
“He is racing like a miler but he just wasn’t good enough,” he said.
Your Song is on the fourth line of Golden Rose betting and pleased jockey Peter Robl with his effort for second.
“He went outstanding and was coming into this off one soft trial,” Robl said.
“Today was all about getting him ready for the Golden Rose and he proved today that he’s up to that class and also that he’s going to be much better going into the Rose in a fortnight.
Pierro displaced his stablemate More Joyous at the head of Cox Plate betting, firming to $5.50 with the mare at $6.50 but Waterhouse issued a word of caution.
“The Caulfield Guineas is his target,” she said.
“We’ll make up our minds after that whether we go to the Cox Plate.”