When German stayer Our Ivanhowe was acquired by Anthony and Lee Freedman after the Japan Cup in 2014, the Melbourne-based trainers were told they had inherited "the best wet tracker in the world".
And it has taken 14 starts in Australia to justify that billing as, for the first time in his 24-race career, the seven-year-old finally encountered a heavy track on Saturday, and revelled in the conditions at Rosehill to claim the $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m).
Racing for the first time since last year's Melbourne Cup, it was clearly worth the wait for Our Ivanhowe under overcast skies as he scored the first of five Group One's on Golden Slipper Day by 3-1/4 lengths.
"It panned out beautifully for us," Anthony Freedman smiled.
"The agent in Germany who sold him said this is the best wet tracker in the world. Now we just have to find him another one.
"The horse deserves his day in the sun. He's a gentleman, an absolute pleasure to have and we're grateful to have a horse who is so genuine.
"Even on hard tracks when he is feeling the ground he still gives everything. He got his ground (today) and did the job."
Our Ivanhowe ($8) cruised to the line ahead of $2.90 pre-race favourite Hartnell. Last year's Ranvet Stakes winner The United States ($4.60) was 3/4 of a length adrift in third.
The $1.5 million BMW Stakes at Rosehill next Saturday is now on Our Ivanhowe's radar though jockey Kerrin McEvoy revealed he pulled up a touch lame after his first win since last year's Doomben Cup.
McEvoy said there had been no issues during over 2000m journey.
"They couldn't quicken and he quickened up the last 500 and I went from six, seven lengths off them to controlling the race and the horse did the rest," he said.
Meanwhile, Hartnell's trainer John O'Shea was upbeat after the six-year-old gelding powered home after tailing the seven-strong field with 400m left to travel.
Hartnell was attempting to bounce back from a disappointing eighth in his latest match-race with Winx, the wonder mare he trailed home by nine lengths in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick on February 25.
A bullish O'Shea declared "he's back in the game" after a post-race debrief with jockey William Buick.
"He was just incapacitated in the ground. You don't turn around nine lengths in one run, you turn it around it two. That's laid the foundation," he said.
Buick was also encouraged by the effort as Hartnell eyes the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on April 8.
"He was just beaten by the ground really. He's run a good race, better than last time, so hopefully he will be better on fast ground."
By Chris Barclay
SYDNEY, March 18 AAP