Blood Brotha was clearly the best stayer in yesterday's $200,000 Wellington Cup, outlasting his rivals in a slogging finish to the 2400-metre event, and then doing a lap of honour afterwards.
Jockey Lisa Allpress said the Danzighill seven-year-old was so strong at the finish that she could not pull him up after crossing the line and had to let him continue for another full circuit of the 1800m track.
"He just kept going and going and just would not pull up," an exhausted Allpress said after dismounting.
It was Blood Brotha's third major staying success, following victories in the last two runnings of the New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton. It was also his third successive attempt at Wellington Cup glory, after finishing eighth in 2011 and 13th last year.
Yesterday's win provided Wanganui trainer Raymond Connors with one of his biggest moments in racing. The 34-year-old former jockey rode Our Jonty to win a Great Northern Steeplechase several years ago, and also trained Hypnotize to win that race three times, in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He and his father Mark race Blood Brotha together and paid $14,000 for the Danzighill gelding at a two-year-old South Island sale five years ago. The horse has now won eight races from 45 starts and more than $500,000.
In a weird twist after the race fifth-placed Asavant was declared a late scratching after it was found the horse's barrier malfunctioned as the field jumped away. Punters might have been pleased, but not her connections, who lost out on the $4750 stake.
HISTORIAN, a horse many thought would never race again after he broke down last year, credited Cambridge trainer Gary Alton with his first Group I win when taking out the $200,000 Thorndon Mile.
Alton acquired Historian seven months ago after the horse had returned from Hong Kong with a tendon injury in his near foreleg.
"They wrote him off in Hong Kong and said his tendon was no good and that he would never race again," Alton said.
"But we've just worked him mainly on a treadmill that I've got at home and ridden him around a bit in a paddock and he's come right.
Historian was recording only his third win from 10 starts, but showed his ability by finishing second to Jimmy Choux in the 2011 New Zealand Derby.
He was prepared then by Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue but is now one of 12 horses Alton has in work. The Choisir gelding is owned by Hong Kong-based Raymond Ngai.
Jockey Rosie Myers, 26, said Historian was caught three wide in the running, but it was better that he was out in the clear, as he is a big horse who needs plenty of room. They hit the front inside the final 300m and held out the fast finishing Lady Kipling by a short head.
- Sunday Star Times