Mag­gie needs no ex­cuse af­ter race

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

THEY didn’t come in numbers but vis­it­ing horses dom­i­nated where it counted in Satur­day’s Team Weal­leans Mata­mata Cup, fill­ing three of the first four plac­ings in the flag­ship event of lo­cal spring rac­ing.

Train­ers from out­side the north­ern re­gion brought just four horses north, three of them for the $45,000 Listed fea­ture. From Hast­ings came Jimmy Choux’s sta­ble­mate No Ex­cuse Mag­gie, Awa­puni trainer Lisa Latta sent up the Auck­land-owned Jus­tanex­cuse, while Can­ter­bury owner-trainer So­phie Har­g­reaves added Mata­mata to El Santo’s three-race Hawke’s Bay spring cam­paign.

The re­sult that head­lined a day of com­pet­i­tive and en­ter­tain­ing rac­ing saw No Ex­cuse Mag­gie show class and courage to hold out Jus­tanex­cuse’s per­sis­tent chal­lenge, while top­weight El Santo bat­tled bravely to miss third by a nose. Home track pace­maker Sir­cross was all that stood in the way of a vis­i­tors’ white­wash as he dug deep and clung to third place.

For the dozen or so mem­bers of the Full Of Ex­cuses Syn­di­cate who flooded the bird­cage af­ter Satur­day’s race, vic­tory was es­pe­cially sweet. No Ex­cuse Mag­gie had al­ready won three of her 12 pre­vi­ous races, her most re­cent start hav­ing pro­duced a close sec­ond in the Gr 3 Me­rial Mile at Awa­puni last month.

The grey five year old is leased to the syn­di­cate by her own­ers, Howard and Kay Jones, who pur­chased her for just $2500 from her breed­ers Waikato Stud at a Karaka wean­ling sale in 2007. The semi-re­tired farm­ing cou­ple from Wairoa formed the syn­di­cate, bring­ing in friends from their home town, other parts of Hawke’s Bay and from as far dis­tant as Tu­rangi.

Given that No Ex­cuse Mag­gie’s stakes tally is more than $75,000 and with black-type be­side her name she now has a value some­where in the six-fig­ure bracket, it’s not sur­pris­ing that Kay Jones has adopted a more con­cil­ia­tory at­ti­tude to her hus­band. That was far from the case back in the au­tumn of 2007 when he phoned his wife from Auck­land to let her know that he had spent more than $70,000 on five horses at the Karaka sales.

‘‘I couldn’t be­lieve what I was hear­ing, that he’d spent $72,000 of our money on all these horses.’’ Kay told me be­tween cel­e­bra­tory drinks in the win­ners’ cir­cle on Satur­day. ‘‘He’s cun­ning though, he made sure he let me know be­fore he came home. That way he fig­ured I would have calmed down a bit af­ter a cou­ple of days.’’

Howard’s shop­ping bas­ket in­cluded an­other wean­ling filly at $26,000 and a brood­mare for the same price but the stark irony is that by far the most re­ward­ing of all those pur­chases was the cheap­est, the $2700 filly whose name now joins the list of Team Weal­leans Mata­mata Cup win­ners.

Satur­day’s re­sult was also no­table for Waikato Stud and their res­i­dent stal­lion No Ex­cuse Needed as re­spec­tive breed­ers and sire of the first two home. Run­ner-up Jus­tanex­cuse cost sub­stan­tially more as a $105,000 Karaka Premier year­ling and has done a big job with seven wins and mul­ti­ple plac­ings.

While he lives to some de­gree in the shadow of his high pro­file stud­mates Pins and O’Reilly, No Ex­cuse Needed has more than jus­ti­fied his po­si­tion as the sire af­ter Satur­day of 12 stakes win­ners. Waikato Stud also played a part as the former home of Scaredee Cat, the sire of the most pop­u­lar lo­cally trained win­ner on the day, Cody Cat.

Hav­ing just his sec­ond start, Cody Cat was an im­pres­sive win­ner of the Fairview Mo­tors 1200 in the hands of in-form lo­cal jockey Craig Grylls. Cody Cat has been some­thing of a prob­lem child for his con­nec­tions – trainer John Sar­gent and own­ers Sharon John­son, Sue McKen­zie and Lou Weather­ley – mainly through his aver­sion to start­ing gates but their per­sis­tence paid off hand­somely on Satur­day with the prom­ise of more to come.

The win by the An­drew Scott-trained Whosy­our­mas­ter also went down well with the lo­cals, given he is owned by former Rac­ing Mata­mata pres­i­dent and cur­rent TRAC chair­man Danny Moss and his wife Judy, while Baby Guin­ness pro­vided fur­ther ev­i­dence of her po­ten­tial when she won well for train­ers Karen Furs­don and Gemma Sliz and the own­er­ship part­ner­ship com­pris­ing the Mati­ja­se­vich fam­ily’s Mark­wood Lodge and Sir Pa­trick and Lady Ho­gan.

Cool Cruis­ing pro­vided John Sar­gent with his sec­ond win of the day and a first from three run­ners for adopted Auck­lan­der Barry Wright, while Ti­rau mul­ti­code par­tic­i­pant Gary Hard­ing claimed an im­pres­sive maiden win with the Bev and Kern Kel­so­trained Con­fed­er­ate.

Cup Day: No Ex­cuse Mag­gie wins the Team Weal­leans Mata­mata Cup Day race.

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