Change of plans set up McKay dou­ble

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - DEN­NIS RYAN

Sec­ond thoughts sel­dom work out in rac­ing, but they did for Mata­mata trainer Peter McKay at Ruakaka last Satur­day.

When en­tries for the North­land meet­ing closed last Tues­day, small num­bers in the fea­ture 1400-me­tre meant the race was left open un­til the next morn­ing.

The McKay-trained Amarula had won a 1000-me­tre trial at Taupo the week be­fore but was still prob­a­bly not ready to re­turn to race­day com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘What the heck,’’ Peter, ‘‘noth­ing to throw­ing him in.’’

Thus Amarula was added to the five McKay sta­ble run­ners head­ing north and he de­fied cal­cu­la­tions to land an all-the-way win, his first for nearly a year af­ter his Hawke’s Bay Guineas vic­tory last Oc­to­ber.

Amarula was sent south for the New Zealand 2000 Guineas in Novem­ber but was un­placed and af­ter­wards re­quired surgery to re­move a bone chip from a fet­lock.

He re­turned to rac­ing with three plac­ings in the au­tumn and af­ter a let-up was back in ac­tion with a trial win at Taupo eight days be­fore his Ruakaka call-up.

While his fitness lev­els may have been a query step­ping up to 1400 me­tres on Satur­day, his pace and class proved the telling fac­tor as he took an early lead and was never headed. thought lose by

‘‘What the heck, noth­ing to lose by throw­ing him in.’’

Amarula’s win rounded off a back-to-back dou­ble for Peter, his co-owner wife Kim and their jockey son Shaun af­ter Barcelo had won the pre­vi­ous race.

In his third trip to Ruakaka in the past two months, the son of for­mer sta­ble star Alam­osa dug deep to beat Mys­tery Show and sev­eral other smart three-yearolds.

‘‘He’s a horse that does bet­ter with his races spaced, so rather than go back to Ruakaka for the North­land Breed­ers’ Stakes I’d be happy to go steady with him for now and have a look at the Hawke’s Bay Guineas,’’ says his trainer.

‘‘That was a good ef­fort on the week­end and I think he’s earned his chance against the best three­year-olds.’’

That race is on the fi­nal day of the Hast­ings car­ni­val on Oc­to­ber 1, but in the mean­time Peter is con­tem­plat­ing an­other change of plans for Amarula.

Forced to re­assess his pro­gramme af­ter Satur­day’s win, the Thorn Park colt may now be a late en­try for the sec­ond day Hast­ings fea­ture, the Gr. 1 Wind­sor Park Plate.

‘‘It wasn’t a race we had con­sid­ered when they took en­tries weeks ago, but now that he’s come up like he has I’m think­ing a late en­try might be the way to go.’’

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