The Bowler took 25 starts to win his first black-type race and regular jockey Mark Zahra reckons he was well overdue in the G3 R A Lee Stakes (1600m) at Morphettville.

“He always does best in a dogfight,” Zahra said on Saturday. “He’s been all around Australia, short distance, long distance and was just too good for them.”

The Bowler became the 54th stakes winner by Vinery sire Testa Rossa when he lifted in a three-way photo-finish to defeat Excites Zelady (Excites) and Metaphorical (Dylan Thomas). It improved his record to 8 wins in 25 starts for a syndicate that includes former AFL stars Jason Love and Bernie Evans.

They also race Group 2 winning filly Fontein Ruby with Aquanita trainer Robert Smerdon.

The Bowler (4g Testa Rossa – Specie by Canny Lad) is from a half-sister to Golden Slipper winner Guineas and cost $67,500 at the 2012 Gold Coast Magic Millions. The Lee Stakes prizemoney increased his bank balance to $426,595.

“There were 8 of us in the original partnership and now there’s 27,” Love said. “Our next mission is to get Rob on the drink.”

Smerdon has been on the square for a long time and he told the Aquanita website there’s a better chance of The Bowler winning a Group 1 than getting him on the frothy fluid.

Testa Rossa has sired 81 individual winners of 130 races this season for progeny earnings of $3.86 million. Vinery will stand him for a $19,800 (inc gst) fee this year.

The Magic Millions National Sale starting on Sunday, May 24 includes several mares carrying positive tests to Testa Rossa. Among them is More Than Ready mare We’ll See (Lot 979) who is a half-sister to Testa Rossa Group 3 winner Pane In The Glass.