By: Mark Nowell @MarkANowell
He always had the ability, which is apparent by looking at his record, but Southern Icon had not tasted success since winning the same race last year, the $30,000 Group One Turf Bar 1200 at Te Rapa.
Not really fancied in the market, Southern Icon ($10) having his first start since April was sent out sixth favourite in the ten horse field, jumped well and was allowed to stride freely under rider Mark Hills.
As they turned for home, it appeared the fancied runners including favourite Lewis Carroll was battling to make up the deficit and it was all Southern Icon to win by a length and a half over runner-up Biggin Hill (A.Collett), with a length to former Hong Kong galloper Kitaya (D.Danis) in third.
"It's great to have him back," commented rider Mark Hills, who has been aboard seven of the horse's eight wins.
Southern Icon's winning time was 1:13.29 (last 600m in 35.71) on a Slow9 track.
"He's not the easiest horse to work - he likes to do things his way. Lately when I'm still trying to pull him up when we get to the end of the back straight, I've been thinking he's going back to the races in pretty good order," Matamata trainer Alan Tait said.
"He got a virus last year and that was the end of his season," Tait said.
"He showed so much ability and we tried to patch him up, but it was no go."
"Now that he's back, the Group Two Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate here at Te Rapa on August 19th is on the agenda, followed two weeks later by the first leg of the Hawke's Bay triple crown, the Group One Tarzino Trophy," Tait said.
Tait, prepares Southern Icon for his wife Gaylene and long-time stable supporter Mike Collinson.
The Australian-bred son of Big Brown, Southern Icon has won 8 and placed on three occasions from 27 starts and earned over $133,000 in earnings.