Ruud Awakening is set to give New Zealand one of its best chances of winning the Golden Slipper after a brilliant victory in the Group One Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie.
The Bernardini filly, owned by a syndicate which includes All Blacks legend Colin Meads, led from the start and by the finish had 2-1/4 lengths to spare over another smart filly, Bounding.
She appeared to want to go faster in front but still covered the 1200m in a slick 1 minute 8.78 seconds without being fully extended.
"She's just class. I was just the pilot," jockey Opie Bosson said.
"She's so professional, she doesn't overdo things and she's got the accelerator there when you want it."
Ruud Awakening confirmed her stop at the top of what appears a good New Zealand crop of two-year-olds, with Bounding and unbeaten Matamata Breeders' Stakes winner Recite both top horses.
New Zealand stables have yet to win the $3.5 million Golden Slipper (1200m), run on April 6, and if Ruud Awakening goes she would have probably the best chance since Our Maizcay ran fourth from a wide draw in 1995.
"Right now my first thoughts are let her get home, see how she comes through it. She'll come first," her Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh said.
"But if she comes through and bounces out of this like I think she may do, why not have a crack at Sydney. That would be the ultimate, to take out the Slipper."
Victory in the Diamond Stakes should ensure Ruud Awakening has enough prizemoney to earn a start in the Golden Slipper, which she would contest without another run, though her connections will need to pay a $150,000 late entry fee.
Bounding's second added to a frustrating season for Matamata trainers Ken and Bev Kelso, who have also seen their top mare Xanadu and class three-year-old Fix run six Group One placings between them without a win this season.