WHEN DEREK MOORE bought a mare and foal for $3500 at a lowly sale at Karaka, he never dreamed that 20 years later it would result in his accepting a trophy at the Harness Jewels.
But those were the meagre beginnings that Moore recalled, after Gold Ace outstayed gallant outsider Hands Christian and Terror To Love in one of the most anticipated clashes at Ashburton.
Moore's bargain buy, from breeders Steve and Anne Phillips, named Touch Of Gold, was the grand-dam of Gold Ace, who has now won 10 races and $520,000.
It was only a twist of fate that Moore is still part of the syndicate that races the son of Bettor's Delight.
He "sold" the horse to Steven Reid and Graeme Rogerson at the yearling sales, but was told by Rogerson straight afterwards that he would still have to keep a quarter share.
And later, when Rogerson and Reid split and the horse came up for sale again, he bought another 12.5%, taking in 10 of his thoroughbred mates, including Windsor Park Stud boss Nelson Schick.
Together with trainer Reid's wife Wendy and Michael Ng they now share expenses for the three-year-old, who Reid rates as very special.
That's a rap Moore doubted he'd ever hear – Gold Ace's dam Hill Of Gold won only two races – and Moore even drove the mare in three or four races for amateur drivers. But Gold Ace is in an entirely different league.
"I thought he might have gone a bit slow [in front] today," Reid said. "He has speed but he's a far better stayer. He gave my wife and I a heart attack, but he got there." Reid said he believed Gold Ace was so tough he would still have been in front if the race had been another 100 metres.
Driver Peter Ferguson agreed. "He had Terror To Love covered and he just saw that horse out wide [Hands Christian] a bit late.
"But he did stick his head out and went again.
"He sprinted sharply three times in the first 600 metres and to do that and keep going shows how special he is."
Reid said he was keen to return to Australia, maybe for the Breeders' Crown.
- © Fairfax NZ News