Talented four-year-old Alfa Oro (NZ) (Bachelor Duke) continued his picket fence formline when successful in the Neds Handicap (1100m) at Caulfield on Saturday after leading throughout under Ben Melham.
The handsome New Zealand bred gelding has been patiently handled by Mornington trainer Matt Laurie after a life threatening injury early in his three-year-old year and notched his fifth win from seven starts, the last four in succession.
“I’m probably a bit short of words, to be honest,” Laurie said.
“It’s been a long process. I thought we had a smart one very early on and to see this happening is a good result.
“He was hard on the bridle coming around the turn. He travels so long into a race before coming under pressure. That’s a sign of a very good horse and we have to think long and hard about where we’re going to go with him.
“Really, we were just trying to build up his bank account, get points and he’s been able to do that really well.”
Alfa Oro was off the scene for the best part of 20 months after suffering a spiral fracture in a front leg in what Laurie described as a routine piece of trackwork.
“He’s a very lovable horse and there’s been a lot of people involved in getting this horse back,” he said.
“They all know who they are and we thank them very much for their involvement. It’s been a big process and everyone will get as much satisfaction as I have.”
Winning Jockey Ben Melham was also pleased with the progression of the lightly-raced speedster.
“He was very impressive and he’s a progressive horse,” Melham said.
“Matt’s done a terrific job with him, just the way he’s handled him and brought him up slowly from injury. He gave him a couple of trials, put him out, he took his time with him because he knew the horse is worth it and it’s really paying dividends now for a good bunch of owners.
“He can be a bit fierce at times in running but that’s just his competitive side and he was competitive today and too good.”
Laurie went to $240,000 to secure Alfa Oro, a half-brother to multiple Group Three winner Home By Midnight (who raced as Five To Midnight in New Zealand) from the draft of Regal Farm at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstocks Ready to Run Sale.
“I didn’t want to pay that much, but I really liked the horse,” Laurie said. “I thought he had a lot of Fastnet Rock about him.
“He’s out of Fastnet Lady, a Fastnet Rock mare, and he just had the right shape and physique that I look for and I thought he breezed up in a manner where he looked like he had a fair bit left under the hood.
“That crossed with a mare who has already produced a decent horse. I didn’t know much about Bachelor Duke, but it didn’t concern me because she looked like she had done a pretty good job already.”
The horse was bred by The Oaks Stud, who sold him as a yearling for $135,000 from the Select Session of the Karaka Yearling Sales.