Garry Bates had never heard the term ''squidger'' before but when Cambridge trainer Frank Ritchie referred to his budding stayer Showcause as one, the Auckland restaurateur went home with a smile on his face.
''When I looked at buying a share in this horse, I asked Frank what he thought of the horse and he said 'Gazza, I think he's a really good horse, in fact I think he's a squidger','' Bates recalled in his acceptance speech after Showcause produced an almighty run to win Saturday's Gr II $100,000 Avondale Cup at Ellerslie.
''I'd never heard of a squidger but I thought it must be good. I went home and googled it and it was a move in tiddlywinks. I still don't really know what he was meaning but he's right, he is a good horse.''
Ritchie was amused after hearing Bates recounting the conversation but said his version was different.
''I actually called him a 'swindger','' Ritchie said.
''I remember someone once calling a nice horse a swindger and I thought 'that's a nice word' and I've used it a few times since.''
Squidger or swindger, Showcause produced a swashbuckling performance in the Avondale Cup (2400m).
It was a race run from the start at a genuine tempo and with jostling for positions and and horses coming back on him at the 1300m, rider Darryl Bradley elected to pull out three wide and begin a forward move.
It was a gradual move, though with 600m to run, Bradley upped the ante and worked Showcause forward at a more rapid rate, hit the lead soon after turning for home and, despite the taxing run, from there the Giant's Causeway five-year-old defiantly kept up a solid gallop to win.
''It as an ugly ride but it worked out and we got the correct result,'' Bradley said.
''I was on a very good horse. I had faith in the horse and he pulled off a miracle for me.
''I know this horse and his staying abilities. I decided to go forward early before the other horses pushed out on the corner, not wanting to get flushed wide myself. I got to the corner one-off and from there he just kept running for me.
''He was happy freewheeling and I was happy with the way the horse felt.''
This season, Bradley has ridden Showcause to win the Gr III New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton, the Gr II City Of Auckland Cup (2400m) and now the Gr II Avondale Cup.
''I'm on a joyride with him at the moment - he's been such a good horse to me,'' Bradley said.
Ritchie was thrilled with Showcause's win, which brought him into $6 second favouritism behind Passchendaele at $3.50 for the $1 million Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie on March 9.
''It was a huge effort. He's a good horse, a very good horse,'' Ritchie said.
''He's started moving at the 1300m and he never stopped going around them. He hit the front early and I thought Innocent Lady was going to get him but he just never stopped giving.
''It's great to win this race. I've been a long-time supporter of Avondale and it's a race I've wanted to win. A lot of people in this horse are long-time friends and the ones that aren't have become very good friends in the short-term.''
It was Showcause's fifth win from 22 starts and took his earnings past $302,000, though still more than $200,000 shy of his dual Gr I-winning dam Showella, herself a granddaughter of the great South Island mare Show Gate.
The Showcause Syndicate is made up of his breeder Terry Archer, Bates, Peter Archer, Grant Barnett, Mike Gibson, Craig Norgate and Jim Prince.
There was a length to Innocent Lady, now a $12 equal fifth favourite for the Auckland Cup, and a nose to the fast-finishing Loose Change, who wasn't entered for the Auckland Cup and with no provision for any further late entries will probably be set for the Gr I Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 23, trainer David Haworth said yesterday.
Can't Keeper Down ($21 for the Auckland Cup), Trilogy ($21), Castle Heights ($26), Six O'Clock News ($12) and Tinseltown ($16) were the next horses home.
- © Fairfax NZ News