Queen Elizabeth Stakes 2016: Awesome Rock back in picture for all the right reasons

Apr 08, 2016

AWESOME Rock is the best horse Leon and Troy Corstens have raced together, but until Thursday it was also their unluckiest.

The father-son training duo must have felt like their striking black stallion had crossed paths with a stinking black cat.

Awesome Rock lost the Australian Cup on protest and $5 million in stud value, was scratched from the Easter Cup after drawing the carpark and fell one spot short of making the field for Saturday’s $4 million Group 1 Elizabeth Stakes.

The bad luck did not end there. Leon Corstens was to fly to Sydney this week to oversee the horse’s preparation, but had to take his wife to hospital with a prolapsed disc. On Thursday the tide turned, ironically at another stable’s expense.

As first emergency Awesome Rock gained a start in the Queen Elizabeth when the Lee and Anthony Freedman-trained Our Ivanhowe, which had pulled up lame after the March 26 BMW Stakes, was scratched on vet’s advice.

“You never like to see a horse get a run because of someone else’s misfortune but we are very happy to be in the race,” Troy Corstens said.

The handicapper had not factored in the absence of champion mare Winx — with her out before nominations closed, the $2.4 million first prize was suddenly up for grabs and every other rival wanted in.

The Queen Elizabeth now offers many forms of redemption for the Corstens — lost prizemoney, a Group 1 to enhance stud value and the chance to turn the tables on Chris Waller’s Preferment.

Awesome Rock beat Preferment home by a nose in the Australian Cup but was judged by stewards to have shifted out in the home straight and was relegated to second.

“Preferment is in terrific form, but he’s got to come back from 2400m to 2000m — so I don’t see why we can’t match it again with him,” Corstens said.

“I really like Awesome Rock’s chances. I’m not really sure why he was 40-1, but I don’t make the prices and I think he was 40-1 when he won the Australia Cup so it doesn’t bother me too much.”