Carnival time in Stewards
Exciting sprinter Carnival may not be able to mend broken bones but Kevin Hughes is confident she will be able to lift the spirits of her proud owner.
In her biggest test to date, Carnival has run a blistering time and held off a quality field of sprinters to win the Group III $100,000 Lindauer Stewards Stakes at Riccarton on Wednesday.
Hughes, who trains in partnership with wife Pam, said the victory meant a lot to them but it was dedicated to Dame Wendy Pye.
She races Carnival, in partnership with her husband Donald, but could not be at Riccarton because of a badly broken leg suffered earlier in the week.
‘‘I’m sure that will make her feel a hell of a lot better,’’ Hughes said.
The Pyes also bred the speedy mare who now has four wins from just eight starts. The victory was satisfying for the Hughes’ who set Carnival for the race months ago.
Carnival, ridden by Sam Collett, had to work early to sit outside leader Passing Shot but outtoughed the northern visitor to win by a head.
Kevin Hughes was confident the tough mare would keep fighting all the way to the finish. He had given Collett instructions to not gift Passing Shot a soft lead.
‘‘I knew she would wear him down. She’ll never quit,’’ Hughes said of Carnival.
The result was a surprise to some but not to bookmakers and punters who kept Carnival safe at
$5.50 in the final field market and
$6 on the tote.
She clocked 1:08.06 for the 1200 metre trip.
Passing Shot held on for second ahead of a fast finishing Kinagat.
Carnival, a four-year-old Showcasing mare, will be aimed at the $250,000 Group I Telegraph Handicap on January 20 at Trentham.
Stablemate Son Of Zac will also be at Trentham. He will contest the Group III Wellington Cup (3200m) on the same day as the Telegraph.
Carnival’s victory was also a lift for the Hughes’ who suffered a bitter blow in the lead up to Cup week. Maybe Miami, who was set to run in Wednesday’s big mile, is sidelined with a tendon injury.
Carnival’s Stewards success was a popular win at Riccarton where the Hughes’ are well respected amongst local trainers.
● Two races earlier, track specialist Heni was a winner at Riccarton for the fifth time in her now nine win career.
The Mike Breslin-trained mare was an eye-catching two and a half-length winner of the Group III
$80,000 Valachi Downs Canterbury Breeders Stakes (1400m).
Heni, a seven-year-old Towkay mare, brought up her first blacktype victory in the same race that gave her the first Group placing of her career last season.
That race was won by the now deceased First Serve and on Wednesday her trainers, Michael and Matt Pitman, finished second with Montoya Star.
The race was delayed significantly after Morse Code broke through the gates and galloped around to the winning post.
Meanwhile, last season’s champion apprentice Sam Weatherley has notched the first century of his promising career.
The Matamata-based apprentice lost his claim with his 100th victory. It came aboard Kolonel Kev – a former northerner who was having his first start for Terri Rae.
The six-year-old Darci Brahma gelding was a half-neck winner in a rating 85 over 1400m. Weatherley brought up win 99 in the first of the day with the Pitman-trained Pipiana and 101 came in race seven aboard Nothing Trivial to give him a third victory.
Carnival (centre) fights off Passing Shot (inner) and Kinagat to win the Group III Lindauer Stewards Stakes.