Unfashionably-bred Chateau Fort has burst into Group One Queensland Derby contention with a convincing victory in the Group Three Gunsynd Classic at Eagle Farm.
Chateau Fort, the least experienced runner in Saturday’s 1600-metre feature, stunned trainer Paul Messara with his finishing burst to down Equissential by three-quarters of a length.
Igles Star was a further neck away third.
Messara would have been content to see the son of little-known sire Kempinsky finish in the placings and admitted the win was a big surprise.
“I didn’t think we’d see the best of him today,” Messara said.
“I thought 1600 metres would be a little short for him and I was worried how he’d go on a wet track.
“But he was full of running at the finish and I’d always thought he’d need 2000 metres or more.
“He’ll now take the traditional route through the Rough Habit Plate to the Derby.”
The Group One Queensland Derby (2400m) will be run at Eagle Farm on June 11.
Chateau Fort, who had previously started only three times for two wins at Scone in the NSW Hunter Valley, was bred by Messara’s grandfather, Maurice Messara.
“My brother, Michael and granddad own a half-share in him,” Messara said.
“Granddad actually gave Michael a half-share as a wedding present.”
Messara had deliberately kept Chateau Fort away from the racetrack due to his immaturity but is now confident the three-year-old is ready for the big time.
“I’m very excited. He’s been very immature most of his career but now we’ll see what he is made of,” Messara said.
“It’s more of a dream to think of the Derby when you get nice ones like him come along.”
Meanwhile, the Gerald Ryan stable may target the Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1400m) at Caloundra in July following Dee Bee Nine’s narrow victory in the Kirin Handicap (1400m).
Dee Bee Nine, ridden by apprentice Tim Bell, downed Steel Lips by a half-neck with Mr Orient a further 1-3/4 lengths away third.
“Hopefully he can go to the next level in a race like the Glasshouse,” Ryan’s stable foreman Matt Dunn said.
“It was a good tough win, though he took all day to get there.
“He seemed to lose some momentum early on and had to come wide around them but he’s very genuine.”
Ryan has transformed Dee Bee Nine into a horse who likes to settle after he was ridden for speed when previously trained by Gai Waterhouse.
Dee Bee Nine’s win was his second from four starts under Ryan.