2021 has been the year of Kiwi-bred gelding I’m Thunderstruck, who showed his class and trademark fight when winning the A$7.5 million Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
The son of Shocking stepped out on raceday for the first time when winning a maiden at Caulfield in January and under the tutelage of Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr has gone about plundering riches in his nine starts this year, with prizemoney earnings now surpassing A$5 million.
With six wins and two placings to his credit, including a last-start triumph in the Gr.1 Toorak Handicap (1600m), I’m Thunderstruck again had to bullock his way into the clear under Hugh Bowman to prevail in the lucrative Sydney four-year-old feature from Count De Rupee and Vangelic.
“He always has to fight doesn’t he? He would have won by further and cleaner and easier if he had had a nice run in the race but he always had to fight his way out and then finish off,” Mick Price said.
“It’s like the Toorak, the horse was there and the jockey was there for him. They were very brave and you’ve just got to chase these races.”
Winning rider Hugh Bowman was impressed by the feel the gelding gave him in his first time riding the Kiwi import who was born and raised at Trelawney Stud and carries the farm's brand.
“I’ve been riding a long time and I’ve ridden some amazing horses as we all know and the feeling that I got today is what it’s all about. I balanced up, I was full of running and left Brock’s back (Brock Ryan - Count De Rupee) at the top of the straight because I was going so well, I didn’t want any excuses being held in,” Bowman said.
“While I was making my way clear, Brock’s skipped away and he put about four-and-a-half lengths on us I think, but I didn’t panic.
“I balanced him up and when I went for him he found, but at about the 200m he swapped legs and I just had to sit there while he got himself organised.
“Honestly, I was a passenger. He just took me to the line and I just made a point of not getting in his way and he delivered in spades.”
The win continued the successful season for Rich Hill Stud stallion Shocking, who is now ensconced in the top five on the Australian General Sires’ List.
Bred by Cambridge couple Tony Forlong and Jennifer Jones, I’m Thunderstruck is out of the Edenwold mare Primadonna Girl, who was purchased for just $2400 as a weanling.
Despite a racetrack career curtailed by injury, Primadonna Girl has produced in the breeding barn, with her first offspring being the Group Two placed Cantstopthefeeling, who was sold to Hong Kong, where he is a winner.
It’s little more than a year since I’m Thunderstruck won a trial on a heavy track at Te Aroha for Forlong and Jones when prepared by Daniel Miller, catching the eye of astute bloodstock agent Phill Cataldo, who sourced the youngster for long-time clients OTI Racing.
“It was in the middle of winter and really heavy ground but he trialled really impressively, as good as you could see,” Cataldo recalled.
“He was well back in the field, last turning in and he went from being last to three or four lengths in front in a matter of 200m. It was quite an electrifying turn of foot, albeit on the bad ground.
“He's brought that to the better ground obviously and he's got as good acceleration in any horse I've ever seen, I think.”
Cataldo is an unabashed fan of Shocking but has particular traits he looks for in the stock of the son of Street Cry, who won both the Gr.1 Australian Cup (2000m) and Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
“Shocking was a great race horse, and in my opinion the Shockings come in two different shapes and sizes,” he said.
“I’m Thunderstruck is sort of taller, leggier, more angular type and to me they’re the better ones. They’ve definitely got scope and he’s having a great run at present.
“He showed a lot from day one with Mick and Michael and they've placed him beautifully, just giving him light racing preparations and the Golden Eagle has been the grand final all along.
“You’d say that he probably peaked in the Toorak and he maintained that peak in the Golden Eagle, so it’s a great result for all concerned.” – NZ Racing Desk