Exciting South Australian galloper Iconic showed he is on track for the feature three-year-old sprints this Spring with an impressive first-up victory at Caulfield. Improved from his autumn campaign, which yielded a win in the $250,000 VOBIS Gold Rush (1000m) at Bendigo, the three-quarter brother in blood to champion mare Black Caviar proved too good for a slick field of sprinters in the Nine West Plate (1000m).

Trainer Tony McEvoy will target the $250,000 Catanach’s Jewellers Blue Sapphire (1200m) at Caulfield on 12 October before a tilt at Derby day’s Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) after the son of Bel Esprit powered over the top of highly-regarded filly Villa Verde.

“All this preparation at home he’s suggested to me that he’s improved and he’s still coming along a little bit in his skin even though he’s healthy and well,” McEvoy said.

“That really pleased me to see him finish it off as strong as that so he’ll be back in three weeks time for the Blue Sapphire (Stakes).

“I haven’t considered him as a Caulfield Guineas horse and I’ve been wrong before but at this stage we’ll keep him to the short trips.

“I’ve learnt a bit about him today and he’s confirmed what I thought so if he goes to the Blue Sapphire I think having him fresh for a race like that (Coolmore Stud Stakes) will be perfect.”

After beginning evenly from barrier 11, jockey Damien Oliver elected to settle Iconic off a hot pace set up front by The Bronx, a race-winning move in McEvoy’s eyes.

Trailing Shaun Dwyer’s race favourite Villa Verde ($3.60) by a length at the top of the straight, Oliver got to work on Iconic ($14), claiming the lead inside the furlong to post a half length win over the filly, with Whiskey Allround ($7) a further three-and-half lengths away in third.

“Damien had obviously done his form beautifully and he was concerned how much speed was inside of him and he asked if he could ride him a little more patient,” McEvoy said.

“He summed it up beautifully and allowed the horse to finish off that well.”

Oliver made it a running double in the very next race on the program when he partnered the Gai Waterhouse-trained Rockford to win the $80,000 Inglis Bonus Handicap (1700m).

Again coming from well off the pace, Rockford will continue on a spring campaign aimed at the $1.5 million AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m).

The full results from the Nine West Plate are available here.