The first Group race at Caulfield on Saturday was taken out by the sole Sydney visitor, as Coastwatch proved too strong in the Autumn Stakes (1400m).
The Chris Waller-trained gelding sat outside the heavily backed Decent Raine in the run, before going clear at the top of the straight under Craig Williams.
The three-year-olds battled it out for every inch of the 1400m affair, as Burning Power surged from last, going down by only a narrow margin.
Coastwatch was having his first run for the autumn, after having a successful spring campaign, which saw him take out the Group 3 Ming Dynasty Stakes and run 1.6 lengths behind In The Congo and Anamoe in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes.
Craig Williams spoke with Racing.com after the race and told viewers that he and Chris Waller were confident that he would be good enough to get the job done.
“It was definitely going to be a tactical race with my opposition,” the winning jockey said.
“I spoke to Chris this morning and he was very bullish about this horse even though he was first-up at seven furlongs, first time in Melbourne and at Caulfield.
“He was very confident that from the good barrier (2) to utilise it
“I was very happy to have my horse outside the leader and one of my main opposition – he relaxed and got around the track really nicely.”
— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) February 12, 2022
Coastwatch was rock-solid in betting, starting $5.50 with Sportsbet after opening at $4.80 on Wednesday.
The son of Fastnet Rock is now a winner at Group 3 and Group 2 level, and looks set to tackle more Group 1 racing this autumn, with the Australian Guineas and Randwick Guineas over 1600m potential targets.
“He’s got really great credentials and we’re lucky enough that they found this race as a great option to kick off his preparation, with this Group 2 feature race here at Caulfield, Williams said.
Waller wasn’t on course at Caulfield on Saturday, but he did have stable representative Jo Taylor at The Heath, who said their galloper “showed a bit of class”.
“We do know these young horses first time around Caulfield sometimes they can get a little stuck, but I think he showed a bit of class,” Taylor said.
“I think we’re in a very fortunate position that we’ve got a lot of options with these young horses.
“Coming through runs like this – hard-fought victories – they really go away with confidence and it can really lead to something bigger and better.”