Promising South Island two-year-old Irish Express threw his hat in the ring as a likely contender for the major three-year-old classics next season with a gutsy display at Riccarton on Saturday.
Sent out a warm favourite for the TWS Group sponsored two-year-old 1000 metre dash off the back of a winning debut earlier in the month, the giant Ekraar gelding didn't let his multitude of supporters down as he dived late to snatch a courageous win in the hands of leading rider Chris Johnson.
Despite registering his maiden victory in similar conditions to Saturday's Heavy11 surface, the Ellis Winsloe trained galloper looked all at sea early in the run home before knuckling down to his task inside the last 200 metres as he out-finished the diminutive Ajay Tee to score by a neck at the line.
Winsloe was taken with the run after expressing some concerns before the race about the track and the influence an inside barrier draw might have on his charge.
"I wondered if he would cope with the track being drawn down on the rail and with 400 metres to run I wasn't too sure how he was travelling," he admitted.
"Chris came back in and said he never really handled it at all so that's why he took him wide to make his run as he felt he needed some clear air to get into his stride.
"To do what he did was quite special and he looks an exciting prospect. We do think a lot of him as he hadn't done much before he went to the races and he managed to win on debut and has taken another big step up with this win."
Winsloe will now ease back on the horse as he sets his sights on a major local prize later in the year.
"He still has a lot of growing and maturing to do so we don't want to bust him by over-racing him at this stage," he said.
"We think he could get to a race like the 2000 Guineas if he can keep improving so we have had that race as a goal right from the word go.
"We needed to run him as a two-year-old so we have achieved that now so it might be time to back off him a little and give him some time out. He won't go to the paddock but he can have an easy time of it at the stable and we can just bring him along as we need to.
"We followed a similar pattern with Tartan Tights and that worked out okay so we know that's the right way to go."
Tartan Tights, who was ridden by Johnson to win the New Zealand 1000 Guineas and New Zealand Oaks in the 1994-95 season, won the Canterbury Belle Stakes at Riccarton and placed in the John Grigg Stakes at Ashburton en route to her Riccarton classic win. She was trained by Winsloe's father Ted.