Promising three-year-old Wild Night struck gold at Te Rapa on Saturday with a powerful finishing burst that carried him to an impressive victory in the feature event on the day, the Gr.2 James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m).
In the process, he continued the impressive performance by the stock of his sire Vanbrugh, becoming the third individual stakes winner for the Windsor Park-based stallion in the space of just seven weeks.
Successful in two of his first three starts, the Mark Walker-trained runner was one of a pair of leading candidates for the event produced by Te Akau Racing with stablemate Dynastic starting favourite for the contest as he looked to reassert his claims as a leading contender for the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) following a below par effort for seventh in the Gr.2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m).
The Walker duo settled at the rear of the field and looked forlorn chances shortly after the field commenced the run home as the Stephen Marsh-trained filly Academy Award shot to a four-length lead.
Rider Craig Grylls brought Wild Night to the outside to make his run and with several huge bounds he strode into contention before finishing off resolutely to down Academy Award by three-quarters of a length, with Dynastic charging into third behind his stablemate, just ahead of the fast-finishing Desert Lightning.
Grylls, who was having his first ride aboard Wild Night after regular pilot Opie Bosson opted to partner Dynastic, was taken by the closing speed of his charge.
“They had him off the bridle a little bit, as he is a relaxed type of horse,” Grylls said.
“They went fast enough where I had to niggle at him a little bit, but at the 600m he gathered up underneath me and gee he had a good turn of foot once he balanced up.
“He is a beautiful big horse altogether and when he gets to a mile or further, he is going to relish that.
Walker’s Assistant Trainer Sam Bergerson advised that Wild Night would is likely to head to the spelling paddock for a short break before being aimed at the $1 million Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe in January.
“He is a big, showy horse who keeps stepping up,” Bergerson said.
“From here we will most likely tip him out and then aim for the Karaka Mile.
“It was also good to see Dynastic bounce back from a disappointing run last time at Matamata, as his work had been so good before that race.
“Hopefully now we can press on to the Guineas at Riccarton as it looks positive moving forward.”
TAB Bookmakers reacted to the run of Dynastic by moving him into a $6 Fixed Odds quote for the 2000 Guineas on November 5, behind current favourite Pier ($4).
Raced by the Te Akau Love To Party Partnership, Wild Night was purchased by Te Akau Racing supremo David Ellis for $50,000 from the Windsor Park Book 1 draft at Karaka in 2021.
He is the fourth foal of Falkirk mare Supreme and the younger half-brother of Gr.2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) winner Play That Song who also finished second in the 2020 Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and fourth in the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m).
Vanbrugh, a son of internationally acclaimed sire Encosta de Lago, is currently standing his sixth season at Windsor Park Stud and is the sire of last weeks’ Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) winner Mustang Valley along with Listed Wanganui Guineas (1340m) winner Sheez Dominant.