Unable to live up to the hype that seemed to follow his autumn preparation everywhere, talented runner Atlante has displayed a keen turn of foot to win the Listed Drummond Golf Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in a photo finish this afternoon.
Breaking from the gates well, the Fastnet Rock entire settled in prime position on the heels of early leaders Spirits Dance, Solsay and Le Bonsir, who set a notably quick tempo over the back straight and rounding the bend.
Appearing to be blocked for a run upon finding the final straight, jockey Dwayne Dunn led Atlante through tight gaps in the field, catching leader Trust In A Gust 50m from the line a poking clear to register an impressive victory on return; Lucky Hussler running on to finish third.
Understandably pleased with Atlante’s ability to overcome unfortunate position late, co-trainer Wayne Hawkes laid the praise on a great ride by Dunn and was happy to chalk up a first black type win with the kiwi import in Australia.
“I’ll be honest, I screamed from the top of the straight it was certainly not where we wanted him to be third on the fence, but gee his riding good, Dwayne,” Hawkes said immediately after the Drummond Golf Stakes.
“When you’re getting a horse off someone else you’ve got nothing to compare him to, but he’s really well, looks great and the best part about it was when the blinkers went on he just went really focused and on with the job.
“No disrespect, he won the Group 1 New Zealand but they obviously are here for some black type in Australia and we got the first goal out of the road, but where he was going to end up, today was going to tell us which is a good position to be in.”
Dunn delivered a typically strong ride on Atlante in the Drummond Golf Stakes, revealing he was pleased to have started his affiliation with the four-year-old in the best way possible.
“He’s just learning his trade and I didn’t know anything about him, so he’s got a lot of talent, he’s really raw so he’s still got plenty to improve off that,” Dunn said immediately after dismounting.
“It was a pretty solid race, a few scratchings probably brought it back a little bit but probably thought we’d maybe be at the lead or outside the lead and I was surprised I was back where I was.
“To his credit he came through the corner nicely and gave me a nice kick.”
Included in nominations for both the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) and Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) through the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, Atlante has now secured a commendable total of four race wins and two minor places from just ten competitive race starts.