Aztec Ruler was unlucky when making his black-type debut at Pinjarra last month but there no traffic problems to deny a deserved Listed victory in the $150,000 Bunbury Stakes (1400m) on Saturday.

The Stefan Vahala-trained son of Universal Ruler stalked a fast pace set by Mood Swings (War Chant) and then pinched a break under Steve Parnham to hold off the last-to-first burst of Red Fifty Three (Gingerbread Man).

Aztec Ruler lost all momentum behind wayward mare Searchin’ Roc’s (Awesome Rock) in the LR Pinjarra Classic (1300m) last time out before coming again to be beaten two lengths and change.

“He had a few rough days after that run, a bit sore and sorry, but was jumping out of his skin this morning,” Vahala revealed.  “We cuddled him as much as we could and he’s lived up to our expectations.”

Starting a $4 favourite, Aztec Ruler (Photo / Western Racepix) became the 12th individual Stakes-winner by Scenic Lodge sire Universal Ruler (Scenic) and has now earned $513,550 including Westspeed bonuses of $155,650 for a syndicate managed by Melbourne-based Andrew Biacsi.

The lightly-raced 4yo gelding is the most recent foal of I Love Rubies (Rubiton) who is a half-sister to G2 MVRC Crystal Mile winner Testa My Patience (Testa Rossa) and Singapore Triple Challenge winner Ninetyfive Emperor (Rory’s Jester).

He was bred and sold for $40,000 by Quanah Park owners Rene & Trish des Bouvrie at the 2021 Perth Magic Millions and his dam changed hands again at the 2022 Perth Magic Millions Winter Sale when purchased by Western Bloodstock.

Vahala would have appreciated the prizemoney and publicity after winning the south-west feature sprint.  He bought four yearlings at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale last week with the most expensive being a $90,000 colt by Impending.