Well-travelled three-year-old Not An Option reminded punters of his galloping ability when he defeated a small but classy field of rivals over 1400m at Matamata on Saturday.
The Not A Single Doubt colt was having his first start since returning home from a three-race campaign in Australia during his two-year-old season that included a third-place finish in the Gr.3 Kindergarten Stakes (1100m) at Randwick.
Trainer Tony Pike brought him home after he put in a below par effort in the Gr.1 JJ Atkins (1400m) at Eagle Farm in June. A quiet trial at Rotorua in late September had him primed for his raceday return for his large syndicate of owners including majority shareholders, Cambridge Stud.
Allowed to settle near the rear by rider Danielle Johnson, Not An Option tracked race favourite Rocket Spade into the home straight before finishing over the top of him and pacemaker Unition to win by a long neck.
Pike was pleased to see his charge return to winning form as he aims him towards the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton next month.
“We’re very happy with that,” Pike said.
“It’s a little bit unfortunate in that he has probably copped a bad rap for his performances in Australia, but it wasn’t really his fault as he suffered a bad check in the Champagne Stakes (Gr.1, 1600m) and then nearly went over the running rail in Brisbane.
“He was competitive with the better two-year-olds over there, which takes a pretty good horse to do that, so it’s nice to have him home and winning again.
“He should take a lot of confidence out of that performance.”
Pike will give the colt one more start before heading to Riccarton which is likely to be in the Gr.2 James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m) at Te Rapa on October 24.
“I’ve always thought he would love a mile and a big track like Riccarton, so we’re on target for the Guineas down there now,” he said.
“He changed legs just short of the line today and put a margin on them late, so that was good to see, although he will take a lot of improvement out of the run.
“He will have one more run before we go to Christchurch which will be in the Sarten Memorial at Te Rapa.”
Pike quickly racked up a winning treble in the early part of the day when promising three-year-old Tellall broke his maiden status over 1300m at Hawera before new stable runner Puysegur led all the way over 1200m to record her second career victory a race later.
TAB Bookmakers reacted swiftly to the performance by Not An Option, installing him as a $4.50 equal favourite with Gr.2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) winner Aegon for the 2000 Guineas.
Bred by Aquis Farm, Not An Option is a son of Not A Single Doubt out of the stakes winning Savabeel mare Chintz.
He was purchased by Tony Pike out of Curraghmore's 2019 Book 1 draft for $240,000. He won his firs two starts as a two-year-old including the Gr.2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes and was then purchased by the syndicate of Brendan and Jo Lindsay, R A Ferguson, N Greenhalgh, Haunui Farm, Raffles Racing, B & A Waldron & M Watson – NZ Racing Desk