Impeccably bred two-year-old Unition showed plenty of grit as he made a winning debut at Pukekohe on Saturday when he took out the Listed Fasttrack Insurance 5K Bonus 2YO Stakes (1100m).
The Fastnet Rock colt, who races in the colours of his owner and breeder the China Horse Club, is out of the well-performed Savabeel mare Diademe, who numbered the Group 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) amongst her seven career victories.
Prepared by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, Unition had caught the eye when winning an 800m trial at Cambridge back in September before finishing second behind race-rival Amor Fati over the same distance at Avondale last month. Rider Leith Innes took advantage of the colt’s inside barrier draw to settle outside the pacemaking Amor Fati in the early stages of the 1100m dash with race favourite Cool Aza Beel tucked in behind the pair.
Innes said go at the top of home straight and Unition bounded to the lead before being hotly challenged by eventual runner-up Hasstobemagic. The pair fought out a tooth and nail struggle all the way to the line with Unition holding a long neck margin at the post.
Amor Fati fought doggedly to hold third from Cool Aza Beel who never saw daylight at any stage over the final 400m. “He’s a neat little horse, although when I say little, he’s actually quite big,” Innes said. “Very quiet going to the start but when he jumped out, he felt like a different horse, he felt like he’s got a good X-factor there. “He’s done things right and it won’t be his last win that’s for sure.”
Co-trainer Murray Baker admitted the stable held a high opinion of the colt who holds a nomination for the Group 1 Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Randwick next March. “We do rate him and were expecting a pretty good run from him,” Baker said. “He has been nominated for the Golden Slipper but that’s still a fair way off at this stage.
“He comes from a top family with his full brother (Conqueror) runner-up in the Sandown Guineas (Group 2, 1600m) last weekend. “We had targeted this race and gave him three trials just to make sure he had enough experience for his first-up run. “We’ll take him home now and see how he pulls up but there is a possibility that we will take him to Trentham for the Wakefield Stakes (Group 2, 1100m) in a fortnight”.