Quality four-year-old I'm Thunderstruck confirmed himself as a rising star of Australian racing by beating some of the best milers in the land in the Gr.1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on Saturday at just his eighth start.
Luckless in the Gr.1 Sir Rupert Clarke (1400m) last month, the Kiwi import was sent out the $3.20 favourite and barged his way to victory under a brave Jye McNeil ride.
The son of Shocking withstood the late challenge of New Zealand bred mare Tofane, who was gallant in defeat under 58kg topweight.
Trainers Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr are now eyeing the A$7.5 Golden Eagle (1500m) in three weeks with the talented gelding, who has now won five of his eight starts.
“That was so good today,” Kent Jnr said.
“It was a tough race to watch. He didn’t get a moment’s rest.
“He didn’t get a chance to relax and travel. They were playing jockeys. They were trying to keep the favourite in, and for him to keep fighting, for a young inexperienced horse, it was a massive effort.”
Sporting the colours of OTI Racing, I'm Thunderstruck has impressed since crossing the Tasman after winning at trial at Te Aroha last year from Daniel Miller’s barn, catching the eye of bloodstock agent Phill Cataldo.
“He was a big flashy kind of horse and I never thought it would come this soon with him,” Kent Jnr said.
“It’s very exciting. Hopefully he pulls up well. We blended prep two and prep three together. Now we’ve got three weeks until the Golden Eagle.”
I’m Thunderstruck was bred by Cambridge couple Tony Forlong and Jennifer Jones and becomes the second Group One winner for Rich Hill Stud stallion Shocking, and is the son of Street Cry’s 15th Stakes Winner.
Previously based in Kumeu, chartered accountant Forlong and accomplished rider Jones purchased I’m Thunderstruck’s dam Primadonna Girl for just $2400 through good friend Danny Rolston, Bloodstock Sales Manager for New Zealand Bloodstock.
“We raced her, but she got injured so we decided to breed from her,” Forlong said.
“Her first foal was Cantstopthefeeling, who was a winner and finished runner up in the Auckland Guineas (Gr.2, 1600m) and was sold to Hong Kong, where he has won.
“Jenny wanted to breed the mare to Shocking because she liked the fact that Shocking won a Melbourne Cup sitting three-wide throughout. She thought any horse that can do that must be extremely tough.
“We didn’t think we’d get a good price for I’m Thunderstruck as a yearling, so we thought lets race him and see what happens.
“He put in a really good run at Te Aroha at the trials and we got an offer for him and we are sellers. He has gone from strength to strength.
“We love breeding and he enabled us to buy our property in Cambridge, which is a 40-acre block called Epona Park.
“He should have won a Group One last start, but we were just so ecstatic today and so proud of both the horse and our mare as well.”
Primadonna Girl is due to foal to Ocean Park in the coming weeks. – NZ Racing Desk