Mckays’ six starters well placed
Peter McKay was back in the winning groove when his winter hiatus ended with a double at Ruakaka last Saturday.
Winter is always a quiet time at Montego Lodge, and this year was no different after another productive season that saw Peter and Kim McKay’s select team win 12 races – six of them at black-type level – from just over 100 starts.
Before heading to Ruakaka on Saturday morning with a sixhorse contingent, Canterino had been the only runner for the stable in the opening weeks of the new season.
The lightly- tried 3 year old has shown – with two third placings – that he won’t take long clearing maiden grade.
Things got serious on Saturday, however, with the six starters in the blue with lightning bolt colours netting two wins, one second, two thirds and one fourth. Antonio Lombardo was the star of the show as he took his Ruakaka record to three wins from as many starts with an impressive performance in the day’s main sprint.
Springtime in the north obviously agrees with the son of Pins. Two years ago he won the first juvenile race of the northern season and he returned to the same meeting last year to add the Listed Westbury Stud Challenge Stakes before completing a hat-trick in the Hawke’s Bay Guineas and James and Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes.
After disappointing in the second half of last season, Antonio Lombardo’s 4-year-old season had begun in positive style with a trial win, but his weekend performance convinced his connections that he was back to his best.
‘‘It was nice to see him take a sit and finish it off so well,’’ said his trainer.
‘‘His style had been to either lead or sit outside the leader . . . but he showed another dimension this time.
‘‘Last season he would get himself wound up at times and he could be a bit feisty, but he’s really grown up mentally.
‘‘When we got to the track he went and stood in the back of his box, he took the race in his stride. He was nice and laidback afterwards.’’
Fellow 4-year-old Estrato, who finished third to his stablemate in that Ruakaka juvenile race two years ago, brought up the McKay stable’s second weekend win in the race immediately after Antonio Lombardo’s.
Estrato followed his debut third with an early 2-year-old double and had scored only one further win since, but there was plenty to like about his return to form on Saturday against handy opposition.
There was also plenty to take out of the placed performances from the remainder of the Ruakaka contingent. Undisclosed, a versatile performer at a variety of distances last season, indicated another good season when third to Antonio Lombardo, while Travino, the McKays’ best two year old last term, did well to finish third in the Westbury Stud Challenge Stakes.
The big colt was one of several runners to strike traffic problems in transit and was doing his best work at the finish behind the unbeaten Cambridge colt Sacred Falls and another from Matamata, the Alan Tait-trained Southern Lord.
Following an annual pattern, the McKay colours were again obvious in the first juvenile race of the season at Ruakaka, with second and fourth placings by Zaragoza and Almansa a solid platform for what lies ahead.
Antonio Lombardo: Opens the McKay stable’s new season account at Ruakaka on Saturday as Opie Bosson brings him home first ahead of local galloper Flash Hapi and stablemate Undisclosed.