Well-travelled 3-year-old Not An Option reminded punters of his galloping ability when he defeated a small but classy field of rivals over 1400m at Matamata.
The Not A Single Doubt colt was having his first start since returning home from a three-race campaign in Australia during his 2-year-old season that included a third-place finish in the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes (1100m) at Randwick.
Trainer Tony Pike brought him home after he put in a below-par effort in the Group 1 JJ Atkins (1400m) at Eagle Farm in June.
A quiet trial at Rotorua in late September had him primed for his raceday return for his large syndicate of owners, including majority shareholders, Cambridge Stud.
Allowed to settle near the rear by rider Danielle Johnson, Not An Option tracked race favourite Rocket Spade into the home straight before finishing over the top of him and pacemaker Unition to win going away by a long neck.
Pike was pleased to see his charge return to winning form as he prepares for the Group 1 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton next month.
"We're very happy with that," Pike said. "It's a little bit unfortunate in that he has probably copped a bad rap for his performances in Australia, but it wasn't really his fault, as he suffered a bad check in the Champagne Stakes [Group 1, 1600m] and then nearly went over the running rail in Brisbane.
"He should take a lot of confidence out of that performance."
Pike will give the colt one more start before heading to Riccarton, which is likely to be in the Group 2 Memorial Stakes (1400m) at Te Rapa on October 24.
"I've always thought he would love a mile and a big track like Riccarton, so we're on target for the Guineas down there now," he said. "He changed legs just short of the line and put a margin on them late, so that was good to see, although he will take a lot of improvement out of the run.
"He will have one more run before we go to Christchurch, which will be in the Sarten Memorial at Te Rapa."
Pike quickly racked up a winning treble in the early part of the day when promising 3-year-old Tellall broke his maiden status over 1300m at Hawera before new stable runner Puysegur led all the way over 1200m to record her second career victory a race later.
TAB bookmakers reacted swiftly to the performance by Not An Option, installing him as a $4.50 equal favourite with Group 2 Hawke's Bay Guineas (1400m) winner Aegon for the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton.
- NZ Racing Desk