Promising colt Graff has black-type on his agenda in Brisbane by protecting his unbeaten record at Hawkesbury.
But trainer Kris Lees thought the two-year-old had blown his chance in the Clarendon Stakes (1300m) at the home turn before the $2.80 favourite rallied under Kerrin McEvoy to resist a late charge from newcomer Mickey Blue Eyes ($18).
Graff scored by a half neck while Stunts ($4.20) faded late for third by the same margin.
“I’d given up on him coming to the corner when he’d come off the bridle,” Lees said.
“He probably had the toughest run in the race and he was still able to overcome some nice horses, that’s a very encouraging sign.”
Graff will now head to Queensland where the Group One JJ Atkins (1600m) is the ultimate goal at Doomben on June 9.
“He’s looks a horse that’ll run a mile, that’s an encouraging sign from an Atkins point of view,” Lees said.
The Group Two Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350m) at Doomben on May 26 was also on the program.
Graff won on debut at Rosehill on April 2 before freshening up for Saturday’s stand alone meeting.
McEvoy, who was stood down from his remaining seven rides because of an ear infection, said Graff’s future was bright.