New Zealand news briefs

Verry Flash upsets in Rangitikei Gold Cup

A powerful late surge that carried him to victory in the Listed James Bull Holdings Rangitikei Gold Cup (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday may have put a hold on an immediate jumping career for handy winter galloper Verry Flash.

The seven-year-old older brother of champion mare Verry Elleegant claimed his ninth victory for owners Nick Bishara and Don Goodwin, courtesy of a patient ride by apprentice Faye Lazet who claimed the biggest victory of her fledgling career with the win.

Lazet didn’t panic when the Kevin Myers-trained runner made an awkward beginning that saw him back near last in the early running before being taken to the extreme outside of the track approaching the home bend.

Northern visitor Aromatic claimed the lead at the 200m and looked the winner, however Lazet had Verry Flash fully wound up at that point and his relentless finish carried him to a half-length victory with stablemate Kick On back in third.

Bishara, who prepared Verry Flash to win seven races before transferring him to the Myers stable with a jumping career in mind, managed to catch the race on television before heading off to feed up at his own stable and was thrilled to get the victory.

“Isn’t it amazing what can happen when you swap a mug trainer for a real good one,” he joked.

“He has always shown us the family ability, but last year we thought he may have met his mark so Don and I decided to see if Kevin might make a jumper out of him.

“He won first up on the flat for Kevin, who has been patient with him and he had had a trial and a jumpout before today so we thought he would be close to the mark, but maybe not a winner in that fashion.

“It was a lovely ride by the young girl and that black type is just a further bonus for his dam (Opulence) who Don owns and her daughter Black Lace who I own.

“I couldn’t get down there to see him race so watched it on TV before I headed out to the stable to feed up.

“It’s blowing a gale here and raining, but it doesn’t feel too bad after a win like that.”

Bishara isn’t sure where the horse will go next, preferring to let Myers do the planning for the horse, but he is keen for the legendary jumps trainer to help him achieve a boyhood dream.

“We don’t try and tell someone like Kevin what to do, so I’m not sure where the horse will go next,” he said.

“I do know there has been talk about having a crack at the Winter Cup (Gr.3, 1600m) at Riccarton in August.

“Kevin has mentioned the horse jumps pretty well and one dream I have always had is to take a horse to the Warrnambool carnival in Australia.

“If this guy can make it as a jumper, he could be the one to do that for me, which would be a real highlight and one I’m sure I’ll never forget.”

Verry Flash has now won nine of his 47 starts and over $219,000 in prizemoney. 

Lowry looking to the future with impressive Te Rapa winner

Progressive three-year-old Wewillrock will head to the spelling paddock after a clear-cut victory at Te Rapa on Saturday which has trainer Guy Lowry keen to see just how far he can go in his next campaign.

Lowry, who prepares the son of Westbury Stud stallion El Roca with training partner Grant Cullen, had been expecting his charge to produce a good showing with a gear change that saw him replace the visor blinkers he wore at his last start with a full set of blinkers on Saturday.

Lowry felt the visor blinkers may have cost him the runner-up position behind smart filly Bonny Lass in the Gr.3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) last month, where he was out-finished in the last few strides by Wairau Cove when placing third.

Despite a tardy start that cost him half a length on Saturday, Wewillrock never looked in danger of defeat against his age-group rivals in the 1100m contest as he charged up against the rail at the point of the home turn for rider Jonathan Riddell, before cruising clear to win virtually untouched by a length and a half.

“He did a bit wrong first up with the visor blinkers on which may have cost him second,” Lowry said.

“Today the blinkers went back on and he showed the touch of class that he does have.

“I think he is a very nice horse, who is very versatile as he broke 1.10 for 1200m when he won here back in December after winning his maiden at Taupo on a Heavy 9 surface.

“He handled the heavy again today, so he is very adaptable.”

Lowry is keen to send Wewillrock to the spelling paddock now before bringing him back for a spring campaign.

“He has done a good job as a three-year -old so we might put him away as there really isn’t anything around for him over the next couple of months,” he said.

“We’ve kept him to the sprint trips as that was pretty much where we felt he was best suited however I can certainly see him going a little further in the future.

“When he won at Taupo he was three wide most of the way, so with natural maturity playing in his favour then there is no reason to think he can’t get up to a mile at some stage.

“We have raced him pretty sparingly and looked after him and I think that will certainly pay dividends further down the track.”

Wewillrock is the grandson of well-performed racemare Wazawatsyn, who won ten races including three at stakes level. He was a $35,000 purchase by Lowry under his Game Lodge banner from the Westbury Stud draft during the Book 2 sale at Karaka in 2020. 

Star hurdler on top in Trentham feature

Quality hurdler Aigne gave his rivals weight and a beating as he proved too tough in the closing stages of the Manawatu ITM Awapuni Hurdles (2900m) at Trentham.

The nine-year-old son of Sufficient had lost rider Emily Farr in their season opener over fences at Wanganui last week, but this time there was no repeat as Farr produced a patient effort to land the major share of the prize.

With Cambridge visitor English Gambler setting up a breakneck speed in front for the majority of the contest, Farr bided her time aboard the Clinton Isdale-trained runner before issuing a challenge against the inside rail with two fences to clear.

Aigne and Izymydaad set down to fight out the finish with Aigne gaining the ascendancy courtesy of a better leap at the last as he closed out the victory by a neat length with Fantasy Flight running on nicely to finish third.

Isdale, who prepared the Neil O’Dowd-owned galloper in the early stages of his career for three wins on the flat, was thrilled to see his charge back to his best.

“He is a class horse and unfortunately he had that incident last time where he lost Emily but I knew as long as pulled up okay, he was always going to improve out of it,” Isdale said.

“We started off with the horse and won three races, while we also taught him to jump.

“When Neil wanted to give him a go over the fences, we had just lost a jumper so I was pretty gun shy, so he took him over for a couple of starts before he went to Kevin Myers.

“I was having a yarn with Neil a little while back and he said to me would I like to take the horse on again, so he could finish out his career with me and I was keen to give it a go.

“He is pretty much a day-to-day proposition, so I haven’t got a lot planned for him, but it would be nice to think he has another big race win in him during the next few months.”

The victory was Aigne’s fifth over hurdles from just 13 starts and his second in the race after taking out the 2020 edition of the contest when trained by Kevin Myers. He has also added five wins on the flat to his career record where he has now won ten of his 53 starts and over $248,000 in prizemoney.

One race later the Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal-trained No Tip showed his liking for the Trentham track with a comprehensive victory in the Manawatu ITM Manawatu Steeplechase (4000m).

In a disappointing field of just four runners, rider Hamish McNeill had No Tip stalking pacemaker Magic Wonder throughout before assuming control as the pair made their way onto the course proper with one fence to clear.

No Tip established a winning break at that point and cruised clear to win comfortably to register his third win from just four starts at the venue.

“He is my favourite horse so it was neat to see him go so well,” McDougal said.

“He likes Trentham although it was his first go on the steeplechase track, but he seemed to handle it pretty well.

“We’ve always thought he was pretty much a heavy track specialist, but last season he handled the better going quite well and he did again today as the track in the middle of the course was a lot better than the course proper.

“I was a little worried he might be a run short, but he fought on really well and that run will only help bring his fitness on a bit more.

“Paul had said before the race the main thing was to see how he would handle the figure eight circuit and he did that well so I would say he will be back here in July for the Wellington Steeplechase (5500m) as one of his main winter assignments.”

It was the sixth career win for the versatile performer who had taken out the 2019 Wellington Hurdle (3400m) and was placed in both the 2019 Great Northern Hurdle (4190m) and 2021 Great Northern Steeplechase (6200m) for Nelson, who bred and co-owns the 10-year-old son of Mettre En Jeu with his wife Carol.