Dawn Ghost takes Gold Cup
The Waikato Times Gold Cup is fast becoming the John Sargent Cup.
The Matamata trainer is making a habit of winning the Gr II Te Rapa staying feature, a habit he is in no hurry to break.
‘‘I love this race,’’ Sargent declared after Dawn Ghost blazed her way to victory on Saturday.
It was Sargent’s third win in the race in three years.
He won the 2008 Cup with Lovetrista, saddled Passchendaele to win in 2009 and had Dawn Ghost run second last year.
The grey mare had run below her best in last month’s Counties Cup at Pukekohe but Sargent was adamant that a return to racing left-handed, or anticlockwise, would see her much more competitive on Saturday.
In the previous 12 months, she had placed in the Waikato, Taranaki, Awapuni and Hawke’s Bay Cups, and she hadn’t won a race since January 1, 2010.
‘‘She’s been the unluckiest mare I’ve trained,’’ Sargent said.
‘‘She’s always getting knocked over – she’s so small. But it worked out perfect today. It was a beautiful ride from Jason [Waddell]. He’s a great staying rider. It’s a great result.’’
Sargent and Craig Loach bred Dawn Ghost, having raced her dam Lucadore, and the pair have retained a 20 per cent share each in the six-year-old mare and taken eight partners into the other 60 per cent.
‘‘It will be a late night tonight with these guys,’’ Sargent said.
That was evident as a noisy group of owners assembled in the birdcage to welcome their mare back to scale.
‘‘I was almost starting to think she was always going to be the bridesmaid,’’ Loach said.
‘‘She ran second here in this race last year in her first race in stakes company and we’re absolutely thrilled to have her return here and win the Cup.
‘‘We’re just stoked to win this race.
‘‘We’re the battlers from everywhere and this is our day.’’
Dawn Ghost drew barrier one but Waddell was happy to give her time to settle and he was able to position her in 12th place one-off the fence.
He set her alight 700m from home and she loomed four-wide on the turn, challenged soon afterwards and hit the front 200m from home, and was never in danger from there.
Her winning margin was 11⁄ lengths to the fastfinishing Sum Up, who pipped fellow outsider Castle Heights for second.
The Terminator, Six O’clock News, Don Domingo and Mr Tipsy were next home, with favourite Prairie Star finishing 11th, never in contention to win.
The Waikato Cup win was the latest in a string of big-race Te Rapa wins for Waddell.
He has twice won the Gr I Waikato Sprint, aboard Kristov in 2006 and Tavistock last year, the Gr II Cal Isuzu Stakes twice, aboard Ruud Van Slaats in 2008 and Ekstreme in 2009, and the Gr II Travis Stakes, aboard Ekstreme last year.
‘‘This is my first Waikato Cup but I’ve had a lot of success at Te Rapa.
‘‘It’s definitely been a good track to me over the years.
‘‘I’ve had a lot of luck here,’’ he said.
‘‘The race worked out perfectly.
‘‘The pulled up to a dawdle going down the back but I got a good trip one off the fence and a good drag into the race.
‘‘I just wanted to give her every opportunity today. ‘‘She deserves this.’’ Sargent said Dawn Ghost was now likely to bypass the Ellerslie Christmas carnival in favour of racing lefthanded, with the Listed $55,000 Marton Cup (2200m) at Awapuni on January 14 her likely leadup to the Gr II $200,000 Wellington Cup (2400m) at Trentham on January 28.
New dawning: Jockey Jason Waddell celebrates Dawn Ghost’s success in Saturday’s $100,000 Waikato Times Gold Cup at Te Rapa.