Gai Waterhouse admitted to some uncustomary nerves before Saturday's return to racing by Pierro but the unbeaten colt put them to rest in a few strides as he waltzed away with the Run To The Rose.

The much-hyped battle between Pierro and All Too Hard failed to eventuate with the son of Lonhro stretching his record to seven from seven, ridden to the line with consummate ease by Nash Rawiller to assume Cox Plate favouritism.

"I have to admit I was even a little nervous today," Waterhouse said.

"I wasn't going to start him if I didn't think he could wipe the floor with these horses.


"He is an outstanding, outstanding colt. He is Australia's best by far."

When betting opened on the group three race earlier in the week, Pierro went up at $2.20 with All Too Hard pressing at $2.50.

Punters were on the right track, with Pierro starting the $1.55 favourite and All Too Hard, out to $4.80 on raceday, barely raising a whimper, finishing fifth of the six runners.

After jumping well, Pierro got into stride quickly to sit outside leader Ashokan ($31).

He ambled up in the straight to hit the front and stride away to beat Your Song ($17) by 1 lengths, with Epaulette ($8) an identical margin third.

"He was awesome," Rawiller said.

"It took a while to get in his rhythm and then he ambled up and it was game over.

"He has come back a much more professional horse."

Waterhouse reaffirmed Pierro would not run in the Golden Rose (1400m) in two weeks' with Nechita now favourite for the season's first group one.

"Pierro will go to the Bill Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley," she said.

"I have Kabayan, who was narrowly beaten in Melbourne [on Saturday], for the Golden Rose."

Kabayan finished a head second to outsider Lady Harrods in the group three McNeil Stakes at Caulfield.

All Too Hard, who like Nechita is owned by Nathan Tinkler's Patinack Farm, has eased to be the second elect for the Golden Rose.

His jockey Dwayne Dunn said he raced as if he needed farther than the 1200m, while co-trainer John Hawkes said he just wasn't good enough on the day. "He is racing like a miler but he just wasn't good enough," he said.

Your Song is on the fourth line of Golden Rose betting and pleased jockey Peter Robl with his effort for second.

"Today was all about getting him ready for the Golden Rose and he proved today that he's up to that class and also that he's going to be much better going into the Rose in a fortnight."

Pierro displaced his stablemate More Joyous at the head of Cox Plate betting, firming to $5.50 with the mare at $6.50 but Waterhouse issued a word of caution. "The Caulfield Guineas is his target," she said.

"We'll make up our minds after that whether we go to the Cox Plate."

In some other good news for Waterhouse, the Spring Champion Stakes is a possible target for Proisir, who maintained his unbeaten start to his career with another victory.

The colt overcame trouble at the start to win a Hawkesbury maiden on debut on August 1 and led all the way in the TVN Jockeys Trust (1400m).

Although jockey Nash Rawiller believes he will be a better horse in the autumn, Waterhouse says she will keep options open for a group one this spring. "As long as he is right I think he can go quickly through his grades and maybe get to the Spring Champion Stakes this preparation."

The experience New South Wales trainer Steve Farley gained on his first assault on the Melbourne spring carnival was put to immediate use the second time around when his stable star Sincero announced himself as a genuine big-race contender at Caulfield on Saturday.

"I came here last year thinking we were a chance in the best races, but I got a few things wrong," Farley said.

"At the same time, I think I learned a lot."

Sincero's winning performance in the group two Memsie Stakes (1400m) suggests his trainer is correct.

Against a field made up of a mixture of fit, in-form gallopers and aspirants for greater spring glories, Sincero served notice that his Cox Plate hopes are more than realistic.

Sent out favourite, Sincero ($3.60) produced a dazzling turn of foot over the final 250m, scoring by two lengths from Happy Trails ($13). Second Effort ($19), himself an impressive group two winner at his previous start, finished third, 1 lengths further back.

The style in which Sincero put the opposition away prompted Farley to declare him "the most underrated horse in Australia".

That situation, however, seems likely to be short-lived.

"He's got a turn of foot you can't believe," Farley said.

"When he lets go he doesn't really quicken though, he lengthens."

As he did a year ago, Farley has set Sincero for the Cox Plate, but this time he believes he knows a lot more about how to win it.

This spring, the campaign that began on Saturday continues in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) at the same track on September 22, followed by the Caulfield Stakes (2000m) three weeks later and the Cox Plate (2040m) two weeks after that.

Unfortunately for Sincero's regular jockey, Chris O'Brien, one of the lessons Farley learned a year ago was that big races call for big-race jockeys.

"Chris and I are still great mates, but I think the horse has gone past him," Farley said.

As a result, O'Brien has been replaced by Michael Rodd for Sincero's spring campaign.

In a race that kicked off several Cups campaigns, encouraging efforts came from Green Moon, who was the only horse to make ground, and the Italian import Voila Ici, who showed surprising pace and then battled on well for sixth.