With 200 metres to run, Wanganui trainer Alexander Fieldes and veteran jockey Noel Harris gave well-performed mare Marea Alta no chance of winning yesterday's $50,000 Amcor Kiwi Kiwifruit Cup at Tauranga.
However, the six-year-old mare defied these predictions to win the Listed 2100m event, overcoming a strong challenge from topweight Indikator.
"She looked flat with 120m to run but she's super tough and she really put in as I knew she would," Fieldes said.
Harris said Marea Alta was "1000 to one" with 1200m to run.
"She was travelling badly at that stage and I thought I might have to pull her up. It wasn't until I got her out into the better ground that she started to go better," he said.
Fieldes took over Marea Alta's training as a placed maiden and the mare has now won seven races for him, including last year's Taumarunui Cup. She further showed her quality in the summer when second to Singled Minded in the Group II City of Auckland Cup at Ellerslie on New Year's Day.
She came into yesterday's race after a stylish second-up win in the Foxton Cup.
"She's a horse with a fair bit of class and she's run in stakes races in eight of her last nine starts," Fieldes said. "She's a Montjeu and one of the best things you can do is not to do much with them in training.
"She'll be going to stud in the spring and is a valuable mare as a stakes winning daughter of Montjeu," Fieldes said. "She'll go for some more black type now in the Taumarunui Cup at Te Rapa next month."
Harris said the mare's class shone through in the end yesterday. "She's a beautiful handicapper."
Harris said he has no immediate thoughts of retirement from the saddle as another racing season draws to an end.
"I'm still enjoying my riding so retirement is on hold for now. But I'm going away for a holiday in Rarotonga with my wife, Kylie, for a week."
Harris was pleased to win another major race for his "old mate" Fieldes. "We have been good friends for a long time and I gave ARA [Fieldes] his first training success and have ridden quite a few winners for him," Harris said.
Marea Alta is raced by Awapuni trainer Mark Oulaghan and his mother Pam, who bred the mare and they also enjoyed success with her dam Semper Fidelis.
The daughter of Grosvenor won 10 races, including the Group III Trentham Stakes and the Listed Marton Cup.
Indikator was brave in defeat after hitting the front in the home straight. The fact he had to concede the winner 5kg was a telling factor in the finishing stages.
UP-AND-COMING filly Innovation capped a long season when she broke through for her first black type win in the $50,000 Team Wealleans Tauranga Classic yesterday.
"She has been up a long while and ran in the New Zealand Oaks over the summer but has gone well all season," said Cambridge trainer Ralph Manning.
"But she has really discovered her best form over the past couple of months and has now won four races in a row and has got better each time," Manning said.
"This was her biggest test to date but she's come through it with flying colours," he said.
Jockey Jason Collett said he enjoyed a lovely run throughout the race and he predicted a lot more improvement from his mount.
"I think she has a lot ahead of her next season."
The Keeper three-year-old filly has now won five of her 12 starts. She is raced by Queenslander Dick Karreman, who owns The Oaks Stud in Cambridge.
DESPITE losing his whip at a crucial stage, in-form apprentice Chris Dell was able to guide Ourforeignminister to win the Gartshore Construction 1600.
"I lost my stick at the top of the straight but it didn't make any difference," Dell said. "He needs loose ground and he was travelling so well with 600m to run that I had to kid to him a bit," Dell said.
Successful trainer Richard Otto breathed a huge sigh of relief after the major form reversal by Ourforeignminister.
"He had some duck eggs in his form but I knew that I had him right today and he was going to prove hard to beat," Otto said. "Now that he's back in form I am sure he will go on with it.
"He won the Interprovincial and Merial Mile last year and there in no doubting he is a good horse when he's right."
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