A tightly packed group of seven reach the finish line almost simultaneously in the Manco Easter Handicap April 12 at Ellerslie, with Albany Reunion narrowly prevailing in New Zealand's final group I race of the season.
The lightly raced 4-year-old Fastnet Rock
gelding won by a half head from Chintz
for his breakthrough stakes victory when stretching out for the first time. Albany Reunion has been off the board only once in eight career starts while compiling 4-2-1 record for trainer Nigel Tiley, who conditions him for the partnership of breeder Eric Watson and Tim Connell.
Albany Reunion is the 15th winner at the group I level for Fastnet Rock, a son of Danehill who stands for Coolmore in Australia and shuttles to Ireland for Northern Hemisphere duty.
After starting from post 12, Albany Reunion raced three wide without cover to the turn in the 1,600-meter (about one mile) race and flashed a swift rally in the straight for Mark Du Plessis, finishing the trip in 1:35.28 on track rated as dead.
"No matter how many times I went through the race I couldn't see myself anywhere else but three wide without cover," Du Plessis told www.breednet.com.au.
"He was on the ball today, the penny has dropped with him but the best is yet to come, and I never hit him behind the saddle."
Rollout The Carpet finished a half head in third in the 18-horse field.
Bred in Australia, Albany Reunion is out of the winning Fusaichi Pegasus
mare Secret Silence
, who also produced a full brother in stakes winner Fast Dragon
. The winner came into the Easter Handicap off a 2 1/4-length triumph going 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs) at Ellerslie March 8.
"I said after he won here last time that he was a serious group I horse," Tiley said of Albany Reunion. "After he trialed strongly the other day I knew he was there and that easy trial was the key to success."