IT WAS love at first sight for Kembla Grange trainer Rob Price.
And his instant attraction to a Real Impact yearling, now known as Count De Rupee, has taken him all the way to the $7.5 million Golden Eagle at Rosehill on Saturday.
In the case of stablemate Jamaea, Price had his reservations about blowing the budget.
They'd set aside $80,000 to purchase her, but owners Ken and Bruce Noble pushed on to $130,000, a move which has paid off handsomely with victory in the Group 2 Furious Stakes and running in the Golden Rose.
But when it came to Count de Rupee, Price would let nothing stand in his way.
The lofty $145,000 price tag has proven to be well worth it, given he has collected $374,000 in prizemoney and bonuses and is a genuine shot at the $4.1 winners prize in the four-year-old feature.
"The (Noble) boys, they don't waste money," Price told the Mercury. "They're very careful with their money, once they set their heart on it, they had a limit, I had a limit in my mind. Bruce and I have been going to the sales for 20 years together, it doesn't just happen, maybe we're getting better at it.
"Count De Rupee was a different situation. I picked him out, I had to have him, I didn't want to go home without him."
Count De Rupee did enough to qualify for the rich race by finishing third in the Silver Eagle, but it was the way he fought which caught the eye.
Triple Ace broke down on the inside and the ripple effect left Count de Rupee spearing out into the middle of the track, before recovering, even looking the winner inside the final 200m.
Talented apprentice Brock Ryan, who won a Benchmark 88 on him at Kembla Grange this preparation, will be aboard and Price is excited about Count De Rupee's prospects after drawing barrier four.
"We're really happy with the way he's come through the run," Price told Sky Racing at the barrier draw.
"Probably a tad unlucky, Luke aimed him at this race real early, I thought it was a bit of pie in the sky at the time.
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"But the way he won at Kembla (Grange) and the way he backed up in the Silver Eagle, I think we're on song.
"He's got really good gate speed, if you draw wide with him, you're disappointing him if you grab hold.
"(Gate) four's super, we can land somewhere where we can just get the horse travelling, I love the gate."
Count De Rupee is a $14 chance with Sportsbet, behind the Mick Price and Michael Kent-trained gelding I'm Thunderstruck at $4 and Joe Pride's Private Eye at $7.