The Darren Mc Auliffe stable has emerged as a major contender for upcoming feature races during the TABtouch Masters, scoring a feature race double at Ascot this afternoon.
2017 WA Derby winner Gatting recorded arguably the biggest win of his career in the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes (1400m), where he upstaged a star-studded field.
The unbeaten Enticing Star was sent out favourite for the $250,000 event, while Man Booker and the last two Railway Stakes winners Scales Of Justice and Great Shot were also among the fancies.
The three cerise and white runners of owner Bob Peters settled at the rear of the field, as Great Shot set a steady tempo in front.
Gatting settled midfield and jockey Lucy Warwick timed her run to perfection.
Achernar Star, Great Shot and Man Booker were vying for the lead coming into the turn, but it was Gatting who had a superior turn of foot in the finish and scored by just under a length.
Warwick, who picked up the ride on Gatting after Mitchell Pateman elected to ride Scales Of Justice, said she was confident in running aboard the galloper.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever ridden him in a race,” he said.
“He’s a much more controllable.
“He had a beautiful run there, he had no excuse but to win.”
Gatting is now guaranteed a run in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m), where he’s now rated a $16 with TABtouch.
Achernar Star finished second, while Great Shot was third.
When asked to explain Enticing Star’s performance, jockey William Pike said: “I don’t know.”
Little more than 30 minutes later, the day got a whole lot better for the Mc Auliffe team when The Velvet King took out the Listed Fairetha Stakes (1400m).
Previously a winner at two of his first three starts, The Velvet King was left to stride along outside the leader Cocky Dodd for jockey Daniel Staeck.
The gelding, who was first-up today, hit the front coming into the home straight and from there was never headed as he scored by one-and-a-quarter lengths to Lordhelpmerun and Black Sabbath.
Staeck said he was given plenty of confidence after talking to Mc Auliffe pre-race.
“Darren gave me a lot of confidence, he said ‘he’s tougher than anything else’,” he said.
“I’ve only ridden for Darren a small amount but we’ve had a heap of success together.
“I’d like to stick by this bloke, I think he could be going places.”
The Velvet King wasn’t nominated for the WA Guineas on November 24, with the Placid Ark Stakes and Sir Ernest Lee Steere Classic other possible targets for the three-year-old during the Masters.
Blackwood River confirmed his spot in the WA Guineas, after he took out the TABtouch Better Your Bet Handicap (1600m).
In the other feature event of the day, Prize Catch took out the Listed Ascot Gold Cup (1800m) for trainer Lindsey Smith.
A false start at the barriers led to the withdrawals Royal Star, First Affair and Cappo D’Oro.
It completed a memorable day for Smith, after his former galloper Trap For Fools took out the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington.