Xtrav­a­gant soaks up the pres­sure

Matamata Chronicle - - What’s On - DEN­NIS RYAN

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.

PHOTO: NZ RAC­ING

Xtrav­a­gant and Matt Cameron com­plete a dar­ing plan with vic­tory in the NRM Sprint.

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