Top Striker hit the mark for relieved trainer Greg Hickman, who admits the six-year-old gelding is still a work in progress.
Fortunately for Hickman, Top Striker decided to front for his 30th career start in the Ascot Restaurant Sale Sprint (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
“We love the horse to pieces. He’s got so much ability but you just can’t get out of him,” Hickman said.
So when asked on his expectations before the start the veteran horseman replied: “Hope”.
“He’s got all the potential but he’s his own worst enemy.
“Fortunately, there was a little bit of sting out of the ground, he had a good jockey, a good barrier so he (James McDonald) didn’t have to shove him around, and he actually dug deep.”
Top Striker ($7.50) pipped the resuming Nictock ($5.50) by a neck, while Difficult To Get ($4.60) was a half-head third.
Hickman was wary of getting too far ahead of himself but thought the Ramornie Handicap in Grafton could be an option after Top Striker won for the first time since December 2016.
“We might be able to take him to there. There’s supposed to be plenty of rain in July,” he said.