Railway Handicap favourite Burgundy showed heart and class with a winning return at Otaki yesterday.
There were no shortage of challengers at the 200m in the $50,000 Levin Stakes (1200m) but pacemaker Burgundy, a $1.60 favourite, held them off to win by a long neck, a margin that might have flattered his rivals. "He was just playing and waiting for them to come up to him," rider Matt Cameron said. "Once I gave him one behind the saddle, away he went. He drew away and did it easy in the finish."
"He was mucking around in the gates at the start and missed it a bit. He was a bit fresh and had a girl on either side of him and didn't know which one to go to.
"He will take a lot of improvement from the race and is only going to get better and better."
Four-year-old Burgundy, who cost $1.3 million as a yearling, is a three-quarter brother to Darci Brahma and has now had six wins from nine starts.
He was having his first race since April 28 yesterday and will now go straight to the $200,000 Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on January 1, with the Telegraph Handicap at Trentham to follow, on January 19.
Burgundy is already as short as $4 for the Railway, with Mosse at $6, Better Than Ever at $8 and Durham Town at $10.
Burgundy also heads the Telegraph market, at $5.50, with Guiseppina at $6, Mosse at $8 and Xanadu at $10.
All going well, Burgundy will also tackle the weight-for-age Waikato Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa in February and might then head to Australia.
The Redoute's Choice entire had two trials to fit him for yesterday's race but trainer Jason Bridgman had no doubt that the horse needed the run.
"He's a bit on the heavy side for him [today]," Bridgman said. "He hasn't blown up over the back too much but he will take good improvement from the race.
"He's a horse with a high cruising speed rather than a horse who quickens up and the greater speed and the big fields in the Group I races will suit him. He will be able to stalk them then."
McLaren showed he can cope with better company by finishing second to Burgundy yesterday with Special Draw, the lowest rated horse in the field, doing well for third.
Te Awamutu mare Keenly earned a crack at better company when winning the rating 85 2200m.
Keenly came from last, and widest on the turn, to win well.
- The Press
Is the Canterbury team 'mentally soft'?Related story: North Harbour stun hapless Canterbury team