In-form trainer Simon Miller ended the season with a bang after First Among Equals commenced his winter and autumn campaign in style at Belmont on Saturday.
First Among Equals served notice he was a horse on the way up last campaign when he claimed the Pinjarra Classic (1300m) in February and he confirmed that rating when he outgunned Rock Magic to win the Listed Bolton Sprint first-up.
Rock Magic looked to have the race within his grasp after snatching the lead from pacesetter and last year’s Bolton Sprint champion, Rebel King, but he was immediately put under pressure from Paul Harvey and First Among Equals.
Forced to race wide without cover from barrier 12, the extreme outside gate in the Bolton field, First Among Equals, under strong and aggressive riding from Harvey, lifted over the final 150m to run over the top of a gallant, Rock Magic.
The pair were over two lengths clear of their next rival, Rebel King, with Travinator finishing fourth.
Favourite Red Ora, making his return since the Bunbury Stakes (1400m) in March, was given a gun ride from Jason Brown and loomed a winning chance as the field entered the home straight, but the gelding failed to run on as expected when seventh.
Miller said First Among Equals, closing in on half-a million dollars in stake earnings, could be hedaed east for a Melbourne spring campaign.
“If you have a good horse and a good hoop they can overcome obstacles,” Miller said.
“He defied the bias and still found a way to win.
“His record at Belmont is outstanding and he is headed for a bright campaign.
“He will go onto the next run and then we will plan to see if he goes over east with Whispering Brook.
“I think potentially he is up with them over there as well.
“He has definitely improved from prep to prep.”
First Among Equals was one of two runners in the Bolton Sprint for Miller with former Victorian, General Groove, at his second Western Australian start, running on solidly for sixth, beaten 3 3/4 lengths.
“The first two cleared out, but he was there with the rest of them and is definitely looking for 1400m,” Miller said.
First Among Equals gave Miller the second leg of a double after stable mate, Conseated, sensationally backed from $3.60 into $1.90, cut down tearaway leader, Furious Dame, in the shadows of the post in race two.
Miller, who claimed his second success in the Bolton Sprint after Power Prince was successful in 2011, ended the 2015-16 racing season with 50 city winners, finishing third behind Adam Durrant (67) and Grant Williams (63) in the trainer’s premiership.