Wotabuzz - what a class act
If the excitement factor of a racehorse was a measure of their talent then Wotabuzz would be a superstar.
And while not deserving of that moniker just yet, the Awapuni-trained jumper climbed into the category of brilliant yesterday by winning the Grand National Hurdles at Riccarton.
Under a perfect ride from 21-year-old self-professed rookie Hayley Curran, the eight-year-old gelding ran his opposition into the ground, following on from the same racing pattern which saw him win the Sydenham Hurdles on Saturday.
The winning margin was 20 lengths, with race favourite Waitaha Toa left gasping on the final bend when Curran asked her charge to run.
"He felt so good coming around that last bend, so I just stuck to the fence and let him find himself," Curran said.
"He's such an awesome horse, and I consider myself very lucky to have ridden him today."
Curran hailed from a background in hunting and showjumping prior to joining the Hastings stable of John Bary where she received her early racing experience.
However, she was snapped up by Awapuni trainer Mark Oulaghan who put her on one of his jumpers and there's been no looking back.
One of the least experienced jockeys to win a Grand National, Curran was having only her 30th raceday ride yesterday.
"It's been a pretty amazing ride so far, I can't really believe it," she said.
The victory continued the incredible run of Oulaghan as a trainer at the Grand National carnival and gave him his fourth victory in the race.
That brought him level with the legendary Ken Browne as the most successful trainer in the race.
A reserved man, who prefers to let his horses do the talking on the track, Oulaghan was clearly rapt yesterday. "He was pretty impressive wasn't he?" he said.
"Jumping up 1000 metres from Saturday was a slight concern for us but the way he finished off the race then gave me a little bit of confidence.
"He is such an efficient jumper and makes it look pretty easy.
"Hayley rode the perfect race out there, too."
Bred by Oulaghan, Wotabuzz is raced by a jovial group of owners who were on course yesterday to watch their charge claim glory.
Manawatu rugby figure Kevin Tod and former All Black Gary Knight are joined by Paul Bevins, John Naylor, Doug Smith, Murray Sisley, Peter Clark and Gordon Edwards in the ownership and together the group have enjoyed nine wins with Wotabuzz from 46 starts for stake earnings of more than $120,000.
The Wotabuzz victory capped off a notable day for Oulaghan and Curran who combined earlier to win with promising jumper Upper Cut.
Oulaghan will have a chance to complete a rare double on Saturday when he lines up former Wellington Steeplechase winner Brushman in the Grand National Steeplechase.