Maggie needs no excuse after race
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.