Xtravagant soaks up the pressure
The pressure of Group One racing had an additional layer at Te Rapa on Saturday but it still wasn’t enough to deny star three-year-old colt Xtravagant from posting his second Group One win.
The big talking point on the Waikato Racing Club’s biggest day of the year was the overnight irrigation that had rendered a track downgraded to Dead4 after the second race. That caused major consternation for the connections of a number of runners in the day’s feature races, leading to the late scratching of In Style from the NRM Sprint and the same decision nearly being made for the favourite Xtravagant.
Trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, along with Te Akau principal David Ellis, were swayed after walking the track and coming up with a plan to go ahead with a start and instruct rider Matt Cameron to stick to the inside rail.
The daring plan worked a treat as Xtravagant made his usual lighting start, settled kindly as two other runners came alongside through the middle stages, then charged away in the straight. At the line the Pentire colt had eight lengths on his nearest rival, just half a length less than his winning margin in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas.
Saturday’s big win was the third Group One victory this season for the stable and cemented the new Te Akau training partnership’s place at the top of the premiership. Their tally after a weekend treble now stands
‘‘It was a big call to make, first to start him and then to try those tactics. ’’
at 60 wins, seven them in stakes races, and a third table-topping statistic of $1,417,905 in earnings.
‘‘It was a big call to make, first to start him and then to try those tactics,’’ said Stephen Autridge of Xtravagant’s win.
‘‘There was a lot at stake and we would have looked like mugs if it hadn’t worked, but to see it come off like that was a big buzz for all of us.’’
The performance sealed plans for Xtravagant to head to Melbourne for his biggest challenge, the A$750,000 Australian Guineas at Flemington on March 5. He will come up against the best Australian three-year-olds in that 1600-metre event, but if he fronts in the same form as we were privileged to witness on Saturday, he is well capable of adding another significant element to his CV.
Xtravagant and Matt Cameron complete a daring plan with victory in the NRM Sprint.