Dawn Ghost takes Gold Cup

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - By AI­DAN ROD­LEY

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.

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