The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Explosive Jack showed his staying prowess when winning the A$2 million Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday, defeating Young Werther and Lion’s Roar.
The son of Jakkalberry prevailed in a thrilling finish, with the first three past the post all bred in New Zealand and sold at Karaka in a bumper result for the New Zealand breeding industry.
Explosive Jack has been a model of consistency, winning four of his seven starts with a further two placings and has made multiple interstate trips since winning on debut at Swan Hill in November.
The winner of the Listed Tasmanian Derby (2200m) in February, Explosive Jack provided his late Novara Park sire with his first stakes winner and now becomes his first Group One winner.
“It’s phenomenal really. This horse has been in work a long time. He’s been to all our stables and the team have done an extraordinary job with him,” Maher said.
“His last piece of work on Saturday was the best piece he’s done since he’s had a saddle on his back.
“Johnny (Allen, jockey) was on board him at Werribee and he just said ‘he’s flying’ and I said ‘well that’s how it looks’. He thought he might lack that little bit of class but we knew he was a very very strong stayer and he was right to go, so full credit to him.”
A vocal group of owners were on track to cheer home Explosive Jack who is raced by a syndicate headed by Mick and Alise Johnston.
“To the owners, they‘re great mates and just a really good bunch of people and really enjoy the whole rollercoaster of racing,” Maher said.
“They were fortunate enough to be here with Kenedna (winner of the Queen Of The Turf in 2019) not so long ago and then to be back here again I couldn’t be happier, and I can’t thank them enough.
“With every run he’s got better. He’s still improving now, who knows where the ceiling is.”
The win provided jockey John Allen with his 11th Group One win in a good ride to make his move early in what was a slowly run Derby.
“He is a tough horse, the distance was never going to be a worry with him. We got cover on the back of Young Werther. Montefilia actually popped out down the side and pushed me out a bit wide,” Allen said.
“Once we got to the outside, he really let down and he tries his guts out this horse.”
Explosive Jack was purchased by Peter Moody, who was taking a break from training at the time, for $100,000 out of the draft of Luigi Muollo’s Novara Park at the 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale at Karaka.
A half-brother to Pick Number One, the Champion Griffin in Hong Kong in 2017-18, Explosive Jack is the second stakes-winner from as many to race out of Extra Explosive.
A daughter of Ekraar, Extra Explosive won the Listed Castletown Stakes (1200m) and is a half-sister to the stakes-placed Explosive Dance, the dam of the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Vin de Dance.
Globe-trotting Group One winner Jakkalberry stood at Novara Park for four seasons before his premature death from a gut infection.
Australian Derby runner-up Young Werther is a son of Cambridge Stud’s late stallion Tavistock, while third placegetter Lion’s Roar, already a Group One winner, is a son of Mapperley Stud’s Contributer.