Aquis shuttler Dream Ahead (USA) sired his 21st stakes-winner on Boxing Day when progressive sprinter Sensei scored a tenacious win in the Listed Hazlett Stakes (1200m) in New Zealand bringing a terrific pedigree update for his yearling half-brother headed to the 2019 Magic Millions.
The magic hands of evergreen horseman Chris Johnson paved the way for the Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained Sensei to take out the feature event at Wingatui.
Despite being wide and over-racing during the early stages of the contest, Johnson never panicked as he guided the four-year-old into the race approaching the home turn.
Entitled to wave the white flag after such a tough run, Sensei never flinched as he downed local mare The Precious One and Group I 1 Telegraph Handicap winner Signify in a blanket finish to the event.
The victory was just reward for the Dream Ahead entire who had finished runner-up in the Group III Stewards Stakes Handicap (1200m) at Riccarton at his last start.
“That was some performance today,” Michael Pitman said.
“He was four and five wide at one stage, so to be able to finish off like he did tells you he has a big ticker this horse.
“He had a wide draw and Chris got stuck out there, but the horse never chucked it away and was very brave at the finish.”
Pitman admitted he had been confident of victory after his charge had been the victim of some lousy racing luck at his last start.
“He got skittled after 100m last time so to finish up where he did was a massive effort,” he said.
“On that performance he was always going to be hard to beat today, so we went into the race with plenty of confidence.”
Pitman will now set his sights on the Group I JR&N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham on January 19 for Sensei.
A $60,000 Inglis Easter purchase from the Emirates Park draft, Sensei has won five races and placed seven times from 16 starts and is a half-brother to Group II winner and sire Rothesay from good producer Schiaparelli.
A blue-blooded daughter of Woodman (USA), Schiaparelli is from multiple Group I winner Canny Lass from the family of Golden Slipper winners Canny Lad and Sepoy.
Aquis will offer the current yearling (Lot 100) from Schiaparelli, a colt by Artie Schiller (USA), on behalf of Emirates Park at the 2019 Magic Millions. View the full Aquis draft here.