Enigmatic Victorian sprinter Lord Of The Sky got within the closest possible margin of pulling off the upset of Day 1 of The Championships in Sydney.

The Robbie Laing-trained speed machine was beaten a nose – at $21 – in the $2.5 million T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m).

The four-year-old, who raced in his customary position on the speed, dashed clear midway up the daunting Randwick straight and looked poised to upstage Australia’s three highest-rated sprinters only to be nabbed in the final stride by Hawkes Racing’s Chautauqua.

Hall of Fame jockey Damien Oliver, who rode the entire for the first time in Australia’s richest sprint race, said the son of Danerich relished the heavy track and gave him a huge thrill.

“It was an awesome run,” Oliver said. “He ran super, he loved the wet ground and almost caused a huge boilover.”

The T.J. Smith Stakes was an overdue Group 1 triumph for Chautauqua ($4), who pressed claims for recognition as the world’s best sprinter when he atoned for luckless second placings in the Darley Classic and Newmarket handicap with his maiden Group 1 success.

Darley Classic winner Terravista ($2.60 fav) replicated his Newmarket Handicap placing when third while Lankan Rupee again disappointed.

The reigning Australian Horse of the Year and defending champion was beaten early in the straight and beat home just one rival.

“Very disappointing,” jockey Craig Newitt said. “He needs to go the paddock and start again.”

Lankan Rupee was one of two big names to turn in career-worst performances withPreferment finishing down the track in the $2 million ATC Australian Derby (2400m).

The Chris Waller-trained colt was striving to become just the third horse to win the ATC Derby after snaring the Victoria Derby but finished eighth of 10 in the race won by theMurray Baker-trained Mongolian Khan.

“He couldn’t get traction and didn’t handle it when they got going at the 600 or 700-metre mark,” Oliver, who rode Preferment, said.

The T.J. Smith Stakes and Australian Derby were two of the four Group 1s run on Day 1 of The Championships with the day’s headline event – the $3m Doncaster Mile – going to Kermadec, while Blue Diamond winner Pride Of Dubai won the $1m ATC Sires (1400m). (www.racing.com)