Groundhog Day for connections
Aremarkable run of form continued with another weekend of feature racing and further early Christmas booty for some of Matamata’s winningest connections. Once again it was a case of trainer Danica Guy and owners Paul and Shirlie Ryan taking away another big prize, only unlike their combined recent efforts with the classy sprinter In Style, this time they did so separately.
The Ryans’ third big win in as many weeks came through Surpass, a Savabeel gelding whose last 18 months have been with Melbourne-based trainer Mike Moroney. On Saturday he was having his first New Zealand start since winning at Te Rapa in July last year and it was at the same venue that he repeated in the $100,000 Waikato Times Gold Cup. Surpass had arrived back in Matamata only 10 days earlier but looked the part when Ballymore Stables’ Matamata trainer Chad Ormsby took him through his final serious gallop last Tuesday morning.
In Saturday’s 2400-metre feature he was put right on the speed by Opie Bosson and was being hailed as the winner a long way from home.
In Style’s Counties Bowl and Concorde wins at Avondale and Ellerslie had already put her right in the frame for the Gr. 1 Railway Stakes back at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day and now Surpass heads the TAB’s fixed odds market for the other $200,000 event on the card, the City Of Auckland Cup. Danica Guy, who trained Surpass before he was sent to Melbourne, kept her run of form going on the weekend with the rising star of her team, Tomorrowland. Thrown in at the deep end in a bid to claim a spot in the field for the $250,000 Telegraph at Trentham next month, he proved right up to the task as Michael Coleman brought him home in the day’s $50,000 Listed sprint to post his fifth win from just seven starts. The third feature event on the Te Rapa programme, the $100,000 Cal Isuzu Stakes, was also a case of an untapped talent stepping up to the plate for a winning team. Sports Illustrated – like In Style and Tomorrowland by former Waikato Stud stallion Fast ’N’ Famous – went into the weightfor-age race off a last start win in much lesser company.
Sports Illustrated is trained by Cambridge partners Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, whereas by contrast two Matamata-trained winners on the Te Rapa support card scored in the colours of Cambridge’s most famous breeding identity, Sir Patrick Hogan. That’s not particularly remarkable, but the fact that the horses involved – Irish Encore and Onlyarose – actually dead-heated certainly sets it apart. Capping the occasion, both horses were ridden by apprentice jockeys from the stables of their respective employers, Irish Encore by Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott’s Jack Wong and Onlyarose by Anna Jones, whose boss Karen Fursdon found an excuse for an extra tipple at her sixtieth birthday celebrations on Saturday night.
In a busy few days of preChristmas racing, other local successes included Saturday’s Awapuni open handicap win by the Wayne Hillis-trained Perfect Start and another at Ellerslie on Sunday win by stablemate Letmego. Mark Lupton was also among the winners at Ellerslie with Close Up, while another quality performance came from the Jim Collett-trained McQueen at Tauranga on Friday.
TROPHY HAUL: Surpass (Opie Bosson) adds the Waikato Times Gold Cup to his owners’ trophy haul.