Curraghmore are hoping history repeats at Ellerslie later this month when Conqueror (Fastnet Rock x Diademe) takes his place in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
The Cambridge Farm produced the winner of the 2019 edition Long Leaf (Fastnet Rock x Frustrating), who is the now-retired Lindsay Park Racing stablemate of the Group-performed colt Conqueror was resuming from a let-up with to win at Caulfield on Saturday.
Having his first start since finishing second in the Gr.2 Sandown Guineas (1600m) on November 16, Conqueror took an inside run early in the straight and was forced to dig in to get the better of Write Your Name (Written Tycoon) in Saturday's Michele De Silva Handicap (1400m).
The three-year-old, taking on older horses but dropping to benchmark-78 grade, was strong to the line to beat Write Your Name by a head.
The $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic at Ellerslie on January 25 is Conqueror's immediate target and co-trainer Ben Hayes believes they can head that way with some confidence the colt can emulate Long Leaf.
"He's booked his ticket to New Zealand," Hayes said of Conqueror.
"Long Leaf was probably better performed going into the race because he had won a couple of stakes races as a two-year-old whereas this guy is Group-performed and he has been running against the best.
"So I'd say they are very similar at the same stages of their career and I think Conqueror is probably going to be a better miler than Long Leaf.
"I think he'll be one of the favourites if he travels over well and does everything right."
Conqueror only previous victory in his first nine starts was a big-margin success in a Pakenham maiden in July last year.
He was around the mark in a number of feature races for three-year-olds during the spring, including placings in the Gr.2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) and Gr.2 Sandown Guineas (1600m).
"I had to ask him for an effort in the last 200 metres and he responded well," Oliver said of Conqueror.
"He looked well-placed today coming off those stakes races for three-year-olds and it's getting to the new year now where the three-year-olds are a bit better suited against the older horses."
"Back to a restricted race today he was well-placed."
Bred by the China Horse Club, Conqueror is out of Group One winning mare Diademe (NZ) (Savabeel) and was knocked down to Lindsay Park Racing and Mark Pilkington Management for $1,000,000 at the 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock yearling sales. -AAP