Trainer Colin Little was as surprised as most racegoers with the breakthrough victory of Vassilator in a stakes race at Flemington.
Having his third race start, Vassilator came from near the tail on the home turn to claim victory in the Listed Anzac Day Stakes (1400m) on Wednesday.
Ridden by Beau Mertens, Vassilator ($101) came widest in the straight to mow down Wild Planet ($12) to score by a length with Sizzleme ($31) a short-head away third.
While surprised with the win, Little was expecting an improved performance from the two-year-old.
Vassilator had finished eighth over 1000m at Bendigo in February before running fifth at Ballarat over 1200m last month in which he was beaten more than six lengths by Hawkshot, Wednesday’s $3.10 favourite who finished ninth.
“I was surprised by the win but we sent out a voicemail this morning saying we’ve got a lot of time for this horse,” Little said.
“He was very unlucky at Ballarat behind the favourite (Hawkshot) when I thought he raced in the slow lane and got beaten six lengths.
“I said it looked disappointing but don’t be surprised if he shows up today, but not necessarily winning.”
Vassilator was a $25,000 purchase as a yearling in New Zealand and Little said he’s got a lot of time for the obscure sire, Zacinto, a son of Danzili.
“He stands in the South Island, has good stats and is going really well,” Little said.
“There’s only a handful that have raced here. Navagio and Odeon are a couple that have won.”
Little said he’ll have to think about where he now heads with Vassilator, but admitted he had always felt the colt would be better as a three-year-old.
“We’ll have to regroup tonight,” he said.
“The win surprised me, but he was advantaged by the 1400 metres and the big track.”
The Anzac Day Stakes has proven a good reference to spring three-year-old races with Group One winners Merchant Navy and Long John successful in recent years.