Kiwi raider Dark Destroyer has been building towards a Queensland breakthrough and at the third run of his Australian campaign, the Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott-trained son of Proisir prevailed in the Gr.3 Rough Habit Plate (2143m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
It was a hard-fought victory for the talented gelding who had won the Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) in his homeland on New Year’s Day before the focus switched to an autumn campaign in Australia.
After closing well for second in the Gr.2 Queensland Guineas (1600m) last start, Dark Destroyer was put into the race at the right time by winning jockey Sam Weatherley and after hitting the front early in the straight he staved off the challenge of Savabeel gelding Paternal to win by a short neck.
New Zealand-bred gallopers were six of the first seven runners past the post, with Dark Destroyer now the winner of four of his nine starts, three of them at stakes level.
The adaptable three-year-old has now shown his versatility over multiple distances and on various track conditions, including the Heavy 8 presented at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
All roads now lead to the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) back at the same venue in a fortnight.
“It was a really good tough effort because the weather was so bad and the track is as heavy as it was. But he was really game, he stuck on well,” Andrew Scott said.
“We’re so pleased he can stay because this was his first attempt over a bit of ground. It is encouraging going forward for the next fortnight.
“It was a good staying effort for the reason that he had to sustain a long run. That was encouraging. He’s going the right way and he has come over here and thrived.
“The preparations are going well so hopefully he’ll be back here in a fortnight and he should run well again.”
Winning jockey Sam Weatherley was grateful to the connections for sticking with him in Australia.
“I’ve got a good connection with this horse. He’s the horse that you dream about and to get one early on in my career that is taking me places, I’m very thrilled,” he said.
“He’s a very tough horse. Whatever he’s done today he’s going to improve on in two weeks’ time. They eased the tempo down the back and he rolled up there himself.
“I didn’t really want to pull and push him around but to keep rolling and we hit the front at the top of the straight and he had a really good look around.
“He had his ears pricked all the way down the straight so still plenty more improvement.”
Raced by well-known owner David Archer under his Archer Equine Investments banner, Dark Destroyer is out of the All American mare All Can Party.
He comes from an extended family full of Group One performers including Gr.1 Telegraph Handicap (1200m) winner Festal, Gr.1 Galaxy Handicap (1200m) winner Masked Party and Gr.1 Spring Championship Stakes (2000m) winner Complacent.
Bred by Bay Of Plenty’s Warwick Jeffries, Dark Destroyer was passed in for $30,000 at the 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 2 Yearling Sale at Karaka, when presented by Highline Thoroughbreds.
Jeffries is a shareholder in exciting stallion Proisir, sire of 17 stakes performers, who will stand for $17,500 at Rich Hill Stud this season.
“I passed Dark Destroyer in as a yearling and was going to take him through to the Ready to Run sale with Jamie Beatson at Ohukia Lodge,” Jeffries recalled.
“After Jamie had broken him in out of the blue, he was approached by David Archer to buy him.
“David is an ideal owner. He obviously loves the horse, he is patient and keeps in touch. I was happy to see him sold to good owners and go to good trainers.”