Ransomed credited 23-year-old jockey Jonathan Parkes with his first Group race success and gave Awapuni trainer Gary Vile one of his most satisfying wins when he prevailed as a warm favourite in yesterday's Group 3 $70,000 Manawatu Cup.
Parkes has been in outstanding form of late with this, the biggest victory of his career, coming on top of a winning treble at last Thursday's Levin meeting at Otaki.
He is in the top dozen on this season's jockeys' premiership with 33 wins and looks certain to surpass his best tally of 52 wins last season.
For Vile it was the second time his colours have been carried to victory in the Manawatu Cup, the first being with All Square in 2005.
"I think this horse (Ransomed) could be as good as All Square, if not better, and he won 11 races and more than $250,000," Vile said.
It gave him a great thrill to win the race again with a horse that was bred in the Manawatu region, at Wellfield Stud, and is raced by him with Inglewood- based Jean Walsh and the estate of her late husband Frank.
"Frank was a great old Taranaki racing man and had a lot of good horses like Maria Mitchell, Marinoto, Koparoa and Counsel," Vile said.
Vile originally hailed from the Taranaki area and was a farrier before beginning his training career in New Plymouth. He has been based at Awapuni for a number of years and has trained well in excess of 400 winners.
Ransomed won yesterday's 2300-metre event by a short neck but not before giving Vile and his army of backers nervous moments after he got a long way back in the early running. The horse almost at the rear of the field approaching the home turn but was then angled to the outside by Parkes and kept up a strong staying run to head off Medici inside the last 50m.
"The plan was to ride him midfield and one off the fence and I couldn't believe it when he got that far back," Vile said.
But Parkes wasn't concerned, saying the horse was relaxed and travelled probably better than when he won the Manawatu Cup Prelude (2000m) the previous Saturday.
"I thought there was no need to panic," Parkes said.
Vile has had the Group 2 $200,000 Wellington Cup (2400m) in mind for Ransomed since the beginning of this campaign and said the horse may take in the Listed $55,000 Marton Cup (2200m) on January 12 as a lead- up.
- Sunday Star Times