Waikato RC @ Te Rapa
True Colours Children's Health Trust Raceday
Waikato RC @ Te Rapa
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Things have not gone to script for the talented Thunder Down Under, but a resounding win in Saturday's $22,500 Munns The Man Store (Rating 75) over 1400 metres at Te Rapa has him back in the spotlight for bigger honors next season.
Sent out at long odds, Thunder Down Under ($46) with English jockey Jordan Nason aboard was caught three wide on the pace, taking the lead on the turn, skipping clear halfway down the straight; then fought off Calligraphy's (S.Weatherley) strong challenge to win by head. He's Cavalier (R.Scott) was two and half lengths back in third.
Winning trrainer Stephen Ralph has always held the son of Street Sense in high regard and even sent the four-year-old for a brief spell in Australia at the end of last year, having five starts with Chris Waller.
Thunder Down Under's winning time was 1:25.98 (last 600m in 36.49) on a Slow9 track.
"I expected him to do well today. We've had unreal problems with his feet since he returned from Australia. He was crippled," said trainer Stephen Ralph.
"This week has been the first week when he hasn't been lame, so he was a different horse."
"We think he's real special. I've always let it been known that," Ralph said.
"Now that we've got his feet right, we know we've got the horse. He needs to be in Australia. We want him back over, but that won't happen again until the Spring."
Thunder Down Under now takes his tally to four wins and three minor placings from 27 starts, earning over $120,000 in stakes for Ralph who shares in the ownership with Mrs C & S Hope & Ms M U Sutton.
Ralph purchased Thunder Down Under for $12,000 at the 2014 Karaka Select Sale from Curraghmore and was bred by John Camilleri's Fairway Thoroughbreds.
The victory finished the day off brilliantly for Ralph, after he won the Waikato Hurdles earlier in the day with Thenamesbond.
Foxton visitor Ophelia Lee reproduced her blazing finish to record her second win in a row by taking victory in the $20,000 Garrards Horse And Hound (Rating 65) over 1600 metres at Te Rapa on Saturday.
The daughter of O'Reilly had scored in similar fashion in maiden company last month, but the strength of her win on the weekend the talented filly looks to have a promising winter in store.
In a capacity field of 15, rider Shaun McKay restrained the three-year-old at the rear of the field but once entering the home straight unwound strongly down the outside rail to win by a short neck. Sasanof's Hero (M.McNab) and Valante (D.Danis) dead-heated for second.
Ophelia Lee winning time was 1:40.32 (last 600m in 37.40) on a Slow9 track.
"She's quite a weak filly at the moment. She's going to be better next season when she's had time to grow and develop and when she gets over 2000 metres, shes going to get better too," said Emma Haworth.
"We saw this race as an opportunity to get a better track. There's just no races for her back home, so it was a good chance for her to have a trip away and see what she did," she said.
Ophelia Lee has had four starts for two wins, earning $20,000 in stakes for owner Z M Zhou, who also bred her.
The win completed a winning double for the father and daughter training partnership, Emma and David Haworth after Balham won earlier in day in the open handicap.
The Kipling Girl claimed her second win in a row when she took out Saturday's $20,000 DoubleR over 1600 metres at Te Rapa.
The Australian-bred daughter of High Chaparral has struck a winning double since stepping up in distance and a recent gear change with a shadow roll being added before winning impressively by four lengths at Matamata three weeks ago.
On Saturday, from barrier four, rider Mark Du Plessis tracked the leader until the turn, angling the mare to the outside in the home straight taking the lead inside the final 200 metres. The pair withstood a late challenge from Ekarosa (S.McKay) finishing quickly from the back of the field along the inside, half a length back. Real Fun (D.Johnson) had been handy throughout and stuck on well to hold third, a short head further back.
The win completed a double for jockey Marks Du Plessis.
The Kipling Girl's winning time was 1:40.78 (last 600m in 37.90) on a Slow9 track.
"It was a really good win in a good field," trainer Scott Wenn said.
"Hopefully we have a good one."
"I was really happy with her going into the race. My track-work rider said, she had really improved since winning at Matamata three weeks ago."
The Kipling Girl's two wins and three seconds from 12 starts, has earned $25,800 in stakes for her owners S Chapman, Mrs S Dower, M W Gething, D King, T R & Mrs V M Pascoe, Mrs N Rochester, Mrs J A Rodgers, Mrs J M Stubbs & Mrs P E M Woollaston.
The Emma and David Haworth trained-Balham has struggled to
find his way back to winner's circle for over a year, but patience and hard
work paid off in the $30,000 Fairview Motors 2100 (OHcp) at Te Rapa on
Saturday; ending a frustrating run of minor placings.
The six-year-old with Mark Du Plessis aboard, abnormally settled at the back of the field until turning for home when the pair cruised up to the challenge the leaders in the final 300 metres. Balham relished the conditions to score a comfortable three-and-a-quarter length victory to In A Minute (R.Elliott), with Danza Lad (E.Farr) fighting back to finish third, three-quarters of length back.
Balham's winning time was 2:14.64 (last 600m in 37.71) on a
"He's a funny horse. Some days you think you've got him spot on and he doesn't do what you think he's going to do and other days you don't think he's quite ready but he comes out and wins. He's a weirdo," explained co-trainer Emma Haworth after the race.
"I thought he'd hate the conditions. The fact that it was a bit loose meant he has copped it while he was also ridden completely different to the way we normally would.
"We try and get him up front so he is putting pressure on them early as he doesn't have a big sprint. Today they have come back to him and he has got out to the better ground which has helped him."
The win was his fifth career win from 29 starts and with 11 placings has earned $108,597.50 for his owners D McK Duncan & S L Malcolm.
Dashing jumper The Big Opal scored a brave win in the $50,000 PJR Warren Storm Lifebrokers Waikato Steeplechase over 4000 metres on Saturday.
The eight-year-old showed dare-devil display of jumping and staying ability when he led all of the way to a daring victory.
The Kevin Myers trained gelding with top jumps jockey Shaun Fannin aboard led from the start and was challenged coming into the last by Joking (C.Kennedy) who subsequently fell leaving The Big Opal in front to score by two and a half lengths to Mr Mor (A.Kuru) in second. Fair Script (S.Phelan) rattled home late for third, two lengths further back.
the sort of horse that you don't realise how far in front you are," Fannin
"I had a look over my shoulder down the back and they were a long way away. When he heard that other horse coming towards him at the 600m mark, he got his second wind. He jumped well and he was strong to the line, he's done a tremendous job."
go on with it now though, he's top class."
"Special thanks to Niall Quinn. He has done all the work. He had the horse in top order today," Fannin said.
The Big Opal winning time was 4:54.30 on a Slow7 track.
The Big Opal has now triumphed in seven races, with five coming from his seven starts over the big fences including a runaway victory in the Koral Steeplechase at Riccarton.
The Big Opal takes his career tally seven wins and ten placings from 47 starts, and earnings just short of $105,000 for owners A J & Mrs D I Dravitzki.
The win completed a double for Shaun Fannin and Kevin Myers when they won with Highly Likely in the previous race.