Muchea-based WA horseman Alan Mathews scored the upset of the day at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday with his always honest grey Pounamu heading an all-local trifecta in the Group 1 $1 million Magic Millions Kingston Town Classic (1800m).
The final Group 1 race of 2017 in Australia, the Kingston Town Classic was tipped to be the Darren Weir-trained champion Black Heart Bart’s for the taking.
The five-time Group 1 winner however had zero luck from the inside alley getting a bad check at the 200m and never featuring as a contender, the beaten favourite eventually crossing over five lengths back ninth.
Given a patient ride by Patrick Carbery meanwhile was six-year-old Authorized gelding Pounamu, a former Sydney-trained galloper who improved on a lead-up sixth in the Group 1 $1 million Railway Stakes (1600m).
In the Railway Stakes over the mile, the recent Asian Beau Stakes winner finished under two lengths back as an $18 outsider in betting.
Still, the bookies rated him no hope of scoring the upset at weight-for-age over the weekend and Pounamu jumped at $26 odds for the Kingston Town Classic.
It proved a lucrative price for anyone on him, Pounamu producing a blistering finish to charge home from 11th to first ahead of the Justin Warwick-trained Material Man ($31) who came off a Railway Stakes fifth and the Simon Miller-trained three-year-old Achernar Star ($8.50).
Gingerbread Man gelding Achernar Star backed-up off a Group 2 W.A. Guineas (1600m) second to Perfect Jewel, that Grant & Alana Williams-trained filly crossing one and a half-lengths back fourth in the Kingston Town Classic.
Carbery was thrilled to reward Mathews with a Group 1 victory having ridden for the horseman for over two decades.
“For 22-plus years, Alan has stuck solid with me, the only time I haven’t ridden winners for him is when I have been suspended, this is my way of paying him back,” Carbery told the media.
“To win a Group 1 for him is special.”
Mathews was expectedly over the moon with the Kingston Town Classic result, but admitted that Pounamu was likely now out-weighted out of a Group 2 $500,000 Perth Cup (2400m) win on New Year’s Day.
“He has just been a nice horse and a work in progress. He was doing it in glimpses,” the six-time Perth Cup winning trainer said.
“He has finally just got his head around what we want to do and had trouble-free run.
“We planned second-up into the Railway and third-up into this and it has all gone to plan.
“He probably can’t win a Perth Cup now because he will get too much weight but we are pretty happy with that.”
Pounamu has now won nine of his 37 career starts for $1.12 million in prize money.