Snow Patrol lands the Autumn Stakes in a cliffhanger

The $300,000, Group 2, Hyland Race Colours Autumn Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield arguably set the tone for a Group 1 program when Snow Patrol (NZ) and Southport Tycoon fought out a ding-dong finish with the former ultimately scoring by a very slender margin.

A contest which assembled eight 3-year-olds with plenty of upsides going into their all-important Autumn period, the metric seven-furlong event witnessed Southport Tycoon go to post a strongly supported favourite and then subsequently being given the run of race by star Victorian jockey Damian Lane.

However, no sooner had Lane asked the striking son of Written Tycoon to go on and claim the race, Snow Patrol (NZ) loomed as a serious threat before arresting the lead from his main rival and doing marginally better over the closing stages.

West Australian visitor Zipaway finished a comfortably held third, while Hey Fat Cat was ridden right out the back of the field before making up good late ground to claim fourth.

Snow Patrol (outside) just gets the better of Southport Patrol in the Autumn Stakes; picture Racing Photos

Trained by Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr, Snow Patrol (NZ) was ridden to victory by Mark Zahra who stated after the win: “I loved his trial. My plan was just to follow Southport Tycoon everywhere he went, and I did.

“Frosty [Damian Lane] was travelling really strong and I thought if I waited for him to kick, I wouldn’t have been able to pick him up … Mick Price & [Michael Kent] Junior always have their horses fit, even first-up, so I opted to rush him a bit at the top of the straight. It became a two horse war and there was nothing in it.

“It was a great battle and I got the head over the line at the right time, but I think he’ll improve a lot from that too.”

Speaking on behalf of the successful training partnership, Michael Kent Jnr remarked in part: “… we knew he was going really well but we left plenty in the tank. I suppose the last hundred [metres], the second horse really kicked back and made it tough for him, and he just fought it out. He’s got three weeks now to the [Australian] Guineas, that’s ideal.

“The race worked out beautifully, the pace was on, how good’s Mark Zahra?”

Snow Patrol (NZ) was only having his fourth race start and his first since late September. A son of the under-rated New Zealand-based stallion Contributor from an evergreen Kiwi family which continually produces black-type winners, Snow Patrol (NZ) gives every impression that he’ll be even better suited when stepping up to 1600m and then 2000m at some stage in the not too distant future.

Snow Patrol (NZ) was returned at $9.00, Southport Tycoon at $2.00 favourite, and Zipaway at $7.50.

Winning time was 1m23.54s, and the official margins a Short Half Head x 2.5 lengths.