Pounamu has booked a berth in the $1 million Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) after posting an upset win in the Group 3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m) at Ascot.
Starting at $26, the Alan Mathews-trained gelding, ridden by Pat Carbery, stormed home from near last to nail the heavily-backed favourite Variation by a half-head.
Whispering Brook held on for third, beaten a half-length, after she dashed to the front before approaching the home turn.
Touch Of Silver ran a slashing fourth from the back of the field, with Royal Star and Cosmic Storm finishing fifth and six respectively, denying owner Bob Peters a third straight victory in the $150,000 feature.
Pounamu, who arrived in Perth last year as a maiden, had not raced since placing third to Scales Of Justice in last July’s Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m).
Yesterday’s victory, Pounamu’s eighth from 35 starts, boosted prize money to almost half a million dollars and secures him a start in the Railway Stakes on November 25.
“Today (Saturday) was the day he either showed up and got into the Railway or you take a different tack,” Mathews said.
“He has always shown me he was a good horse and he deserved to win a nice race.
“It was a good effort and the horse can improve.”
Pounamu capped a perfect day for Carbery who claimed the second leg of a double after leading on Rhi’s Rocket earlier.
He also rode a record six Asian Beau Stakes after previous wins with Westriver Kevydonn (2012), Gilded Venom (2009), Umah (1999), Look Of Success (1997) and Classy Dresser (1994).
Carbery said he had to ride Pounamu with patience.
“Alan (Mathews) never gives me instructions and he knows I understand the horse, but he said don’t get sucked into riding him too close,” Carbery said.
“He was the first horse out of the gates and I could have been a horse closer, but there is no point riding him out of his comfort zone.
“When he gets into a nice rhythm he tracks into the race and he can let done really good.
“He has earned a crack at the Railway.”