Moonee Valley's Stocks Stakes might have been a group-2 race worth $220,000 but it was, as trainer Mark Kavanagh honestly, if rather brutally, admitted, nothing more than a track gallop for his emerging superstar Atlantic Jewel.
Comparisons with Black Caviar are starting to be made with greater regularity and the way that the $1.06 favourite scored in the 1600-metre race confined to mares certainly gave anyone watching pause for thought as the daughter of Fastnet Rock took her unbeaten sequence to nine.
She was unextended to win by two-and-a-half lengths from $21-chance Oasis Bloom, who had won the Stocks last year, and $41-chance Oriental Ruby,.
But aside from connections of the placed horses, who will now add more black type to their horses' pedigree page, no one was interested in anything but the winner.
Such was the ease of her triumph that Kavanagh is considering bringing her back to the track next weekend in the 1800 metre group-1 Underwood Stakes – a race where she would clash with Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune, who, like Atlantic Jewel, is also being aimed at the Cox Plate.
"That was just a little course proper gallop, a mile home in three," said a delighted Kavanagh.
"She's a special horse. We had enough fitness to win this with a bit in reserve.
"There's still plenty of improvement there. Her target is the Cox Plate and she will be ready that day."
The trainer hit out at some who had said he was taking the easy way out by running Atlantic Jewel against her own sex rather than taking on the colts and geldings in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.
"She was always going to the Stocks Stakes. If you are going to look after the longevity of the horse that's the way to do it," he said.
"We want her coming back to the races as much as we can and we want to keep her in good order.
"They were both group-two races, both weight for age, one's a mares' (race), one's open, it's just a no brainer.
"I couldn't understand why anyone would even criticise or question me. I thought it was ridiculous."
Kavanagh said he would make a decision over the next few days on whether Atlantic Jewel would contest the Underwood Stakes.
"She's had a nice track gallop on the course proper today, nothing's out of the question at this stage," he said.
Winning jockey Michael Rodd rarely had a moments concern, but he knows the real work lies ahead.
"Her fitness has definitely come on (from her first up win in the Group One Memsie Stakes)," Rodd said.
"Most people knew she was going to win like that. She had such a soft run, it was just a sprint home. But it's not going to get any easier from now on in."
Meanwhile, Damien Oliver landed a winner at his first ride back on the provincial circuit at Geelong on Friday, and he took just slightly longer – until his second ride of the day – to score on his return to city race action at Moonee Valley.
Oliver was banned for eight months for betting in a race he was riding in and also served a further two months suspension, during which time he was allowed to ride work and regain fitness.
Those eight weeks were clearly time well spent, as the 41-year-old has hit the ground running and shown that he has lost little of his touch, rhythm or judgment.
When Oliver rode work for Gai Waterhouse in Melbourne aboard three year old gelding Divine Calling last weekend he suggested she aim the grey at the 1500 metre F Vitale and Sons Handicap at the Valley this Saturday, reasoning that the race would suit the son of Stratum perfectly.
As has so often been the case, Oliver's opinion was spot on. Always prominent, he scooted clear in the straight and won by two lengths from the New Zealand raider Orion, rewarding Oliver's – and Waterhouse's – faithful followers.
Oliver, who received a warm reception from the crowd, believes the lightly raced Divine Calling could go better the further he travels.
''He worked really well when I worked him and suggested this race to Gai. I thought it was an ideal race for him. He quickened today like he worked last week.
''I reckon he will run further. I think he could be a Derby horse this horse. He hasn't got the pedigree to suggest it, but he relaxes and conserves his energy and he has a nice turn of foot.''
''It’s nice to get a good reception, more importantly I have got the family here today. It’s just nice to be back. I am really looking forward to the spring. It (the 10 month ban) made me keener and hungrier than ever.
''You can get caught up in the racing world sometimes. It was nice to spend some time with my family and I treasured that, but it’s nice to be back and enjoying it.’’