Awesome Rock atoned for his Australian Cup nightmare to record a maiden Group 1 victory in the 2016 Emirates Stakes at Flemington this afternoon.
Awesome Rock was the first horse across the line in the Australian Cup before he lost the race on protest, but there was no taking the Emirates Stakes off him as he proved too strong for a quality field in the race formerly known as the Mackinnon Stakes.
Stephen Baster elected to trail Vadamos into the race and he got Awesome Rock into a lovely rhythm before the son of Fastnet Rock responded strongly when asked for an extra effort to hold off his rivals.
Baster has developed a very successful partnership with Awesome Rock and he was clearly delighted to have recorded a much-deserved Group 1 victory with the five-year-old in the Emirates Stakes.
“He has been a great horse to me,” Baster said.
“Losing the Australian Cup was hard, but it is a fantastic to win a Group 1.
“Leon had the horse spot-on.
“The other day at Moonee Valley (in the Cox Plate) I was really concerned because it was a wet track, but he galloped home well.
“I really expected him to drop out of that race, but he ran on really well and back on a firm track I knew that he would run really well.
“It was the first time that I had been able to ride him forward this time in and Vadamos was going too hard and gave us the perfect trail and the perfect slingshot into the race.
“All credit to Leon and the team and it is great to ride a winner for the owners that have been so loyal to me.
“He is a bloody good horse.
Co-trainer Troy Corstens was quick to pay credit to the ride of Baster and was clearly delighted to have won his first Group 1 with his father Leon Corstens.
Corstens said that the stable have been confident all spring long that Awesome Rock had a Group 1 victory in him and he believes this victory sets up the son of Fastnet Rock for a career at stud.
“He got a perfect run today,” Corstens said.
“It was the perfect ride and Stephen just did an amazing job.
“If you sit back and watch the ride, he just sat behind Vadamos and stayed in his slipstream all the way.
“He peeled and knew what he had underneath him.
“We have been confident the whole way along that he had the Group 1 in him.
“It is my first Group 1 that I have trained and to do it with my Dad is amazing.
“Not many people get to spend that much time with their Dad, but I get to spend six or seven hours with him a day and as quirky as he is he is a champion.”
Hauraki and Seaburge both hit the line strongly to dead heat for second, while veteran gelding Happy Trails was retired after failing to fire once again.