It's more than an understatement to say Willie Cazals has had an interesting career.
Twelve of those opposing the veteran grey in Saturday's $250,000 Livamol Classic were not born when Willie Cazals made his winning debut at Milan in 2010.
That was a pretty decent maiden debut, the stake being $27,794. Oddly, he came back after a spell and won a $2222 race at Milan then finished second in the Italian Derby in Rome.
After another break he won another in Milan and was then switched to Hong Kong. He won only one race in 16 starts over three years in Hong Kong, on April 17, 2013, but he ran some great races.
The best of them was a half-length second in the $3.2 million 2400m Hong Kong Vase, one of the great international staying races, the winner of which, Flintshire, finished second in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Willie Cazals had two bowed tendons when he arrived in New Zealand early last year and Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott gave him the best part of a year spelling on the hills to recover. Saturday's group one was a triumph of patience and long-term planning.
Credit has to go to rider Craig Grylls, too. He dropped out last, picked a beautiful path through the back half of the field from the 900m then switched wide to give the veteran a clear run to the winning post.
Humidor showed he still has plenty of time to develop into a weight-for-age horse when he took over in the home straight and just yielded to the winner. Hasselhoof looked good finishing strongly into third. "I liked his effort," said co-trainer Donna Logan. "We will just pick a path through to the Auckland Cup [in March]."
Logan was truly excited about the dashing winning performance by Mongolian Falcon in the $100,000 Sacred Falls Hawkes Bay Guineas.
Leith Innes took the handsome Fastnet Rock 3-year-old to the lead after 220m and from that point it was game over.
Mongolian Falcon raced away for the easiest win of the day. "I didn't have to use the whip much, but every time I tapped him he went fast," said Innes.
"If something had come alongside he'd have found more."
Logan has not spoken to Mongolian Falcon's owner to put a plan together for the spring, the options being the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton and the Victoria Derby.
"I will be recommending the 2000 Guineas. He easily beat the best we've got yesterday, so why not go to Riccarton?"
It's difficult to make a case for anything that finished behind Mongolian Falcon on Saturday turning that result around in the 2000 Guineas. Hall Of Fame turned in a good 2000 Guineas trial when he bolted away with the Inglewood Guineas Trial at Riccarton.
Analyse the form from Hastings on Saturday, it will have a major impact in months to come. Francaletta is showing freakish ability for an inexperienced mare and Nomisma is on the cusp of her career best.
Ringo has come up better than in previous seasons, Profile has had six starts and has huge upside and Rock On should win his next start.
Top marks for Leith Innes for the Rock On ride. He necked the horse out of the wide gate at the shocking Hastings 1600m start, allowing him to go to the rail, back last. Innes picked off the entire field along the rail to be sharing the lead on the home bend.
Hayden Tinsley, on the eventual winner Animator, cannily would not allow Innes to pull Roc On out of the worst footing along the rail. It won the race for Tinsley.
While between drinks
• Willie Cazals broke a three-year drought at Hastings on Saturday.
• The 9-year-old grey was last successful over 2200m in Hong Kong in April, 2013.
• Third place-getter Hasselhoof will now be prepared for an Auckland Cup campaign.