Fred Kersley produced a training triumph when he breathed new life into widely-travelled six-year-old Divine Calling who posted an upset win in the Scenic Blast Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday.
Capping an outstanding day for comeback jockey, Dan Staeck, Divine Calling, who started at $12, launched a strong finishing burst from fourth on the corner to score by a comfortable one-length margin.
Favourite Durendal, one of two runners for trainer, Chris Gangemi, grabbed second, his third consecutive placing since crossing from Victoria. Stable mate, King’s Troop faded to seventh after leading to the turn.
Resilient Albany galloper, Potent Secret, stuck on strongly for third after backing up from last Sunday’s Mungrup Stud Sprint (1300m) at Mount Barker.
Divine Calling, a son of Stratum, found his way to Kersley’s stable earlier this year after previous stints with Gai Waterhouse in Sydney and Casper Fownes and Tony Millard in Hong Kong.
The million-dollar stakes earner posted a signature win for Waterhouse in 2013 when ridden by Damien Oliver; he won the Group 3 Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
Divine Calling last raced in April and warmed up for his Perth debut with a trial second behind Majinika at Lark Hill.
Kersley, who won the Scenic Blast Stakes with Marasco in 2007 when it was named the Australia Day Sprint, conceded Divine Calling’s victory was unexpected.
“I have to admit it was a surprise,” Kersley said.
“I was confident the horse would run a good race, but the overwhelming logic was he was too long out of form and probably couldn’t get the job done.
“I guess the fact is you can’t earn a million dollars unless you are a good horse and he has done that.”
Divine Calling, who ended an 839-day losing spell, capped an outstanding day for Staeck who won earlier on Mouquet.
Staeck’s double gave the gun rider his first Ascot wins since recently returning from a long-term absence.
“I did work this horse on Tuesday morning and I think Mr Kersley knew I was pretty keen to chase the ride,” Staeck said.
“The horse is well travelled and a wonderful performer who produced a wonderful effort off one trial.
“There are no surprises about his ability.”