Change of plans set up McKay double
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.’’