Counttheheadlights, ridden by Ben Allen, wins at The Valley on debut (Image: Racing Photos)

Counttheheadlights, ridden by Ben Allen, wins at The Valley on debut (Image: Racing Photos)

Counttheheadlights dazzles on debut

Seven days after Ciaron Maher Racing completed their spending spree at the opening book of the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, their highest-priced colt from last year's corresponding sale dazzled at The Valley.

Counttheheadlights is destined to spend the bulk of his career in the spotlight on evidence of his victory in Saturday's $130,000 Dominant Cleaning Solutions Handicap (1200m) for two-year-olds.

Ben Allen positioned Counttheheadlights ($4.80) outside Eros ($1.80 favourite) and wearing blinkers for his debut start and maintained a strong gallop to the line to win by 1.25 lengths.

Godolphin filly Sumatra ($5), a daughter of Lonhro out of Blue Diamond winner Earthquake, settled fourth in the box-seat and minus any headgear ran the quickest final 200 metres of the race for second, a neck ahead of the weakening Eros.

“I thought he was pretty good," said Maher's training partner David Eustace of Counttheheadlights. "He did everything very professionally and credit to the team - he jumped, he travelled, picked up when Ben (Allen) asked him to, finished nice and strong and beat a horse (Eros) who has had a start and ran well."

WATCH: Counttheheadlights wins at The Valley

Counttheheadlights, a son of I Am Invincible, was the dearest colt acquired by Melbourne's premier stable from last year's Magic Millions sale, outlaying $800,000. Maher last year at the Gold Coast purchased two I Am Invincible fillies and a daughter of Fastnet Rock at equal or greater expense.

The result will serve as a confidence boost for those invested in Maher's latest expensive buys from the Gold Coast of which there were plenty.

Ciaron Maher Racing signed for 35 yearlings, at an aggregate of $13,335,000 earlier this month. Maher Racing was on the docket in partnership with other buyers of another dozen yearlings at this year's Magic Millions sale, ensuring just over $21 million worth of horseflesh – around six per cent of all horses sold from the opening book of the sale, including two of the top-four lots – will be managed by Maher and Eustace ahead of next season.

Victoria's Rosemont Stud bred Counttheheadlights and retained a share of the colt after being sold. His ownership group is led by Ozzie Kheir and Counttheheadlights carries Kheir's usual navy and gold colours but with a splash of Rosemont's red on the sleeves and cap.

Kheir's colours were carried by last Saturday's $2m Magic Millions Classic (1200m) winner Coolangatta and Counttheheadlights shapes as a contender for the $1.5m Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 26.

“To be honest it’s a beautiful program really, three weeks into the 1100 (metres) at Caulfield (for the Blue Diamond Prelude), let him have a rip around there then two weeks into the Diamond as long as he pulls up okay," Eustace said.

"He’s a big, solid horse, been very sound and has plenty of condition on him so you would hope he does the job and he’ll head there all being well."

Allen was complementary of Counttheheadlights after winning his eighth Melbourne race this season and second in the period for Maher and Eustace having steered Marabi to success on Ballarat Cup Day.

“He’s a horse I’ve had a bit to do with, I did his first couple of trials," Allen said. "He's just that loose kind of nature, doesn’t want to overdo things and greenness, he’s still raw.

"His second trial he was a bit plain and I was a little bit disappointed but he didn’t have blinkers on - he only does what he has to do and you saw that today.

"Blinkers on today, I was happy to keep the pressure up to the favourite, I was cruising and my bloke had saved a little bit so I put it to him a little bit early."

Counttheheadlights is a $13 chance with Sportsbet for the Blue Diamond Stakes with Jacquinot the $5.50 favourite.