Local Horses Taking Home the Group 2 Double
Local trainer Nigel Tiley achieved a perfect result on his home patch when he provided the quinella in the day’s feature event, the Gr.2 Manco Easter Handicap (1600m).
In a masterful training performance Tiley produced talented stayer Megablast fresh-up off a six-month break to score a decisive victory from stablemate Brighton with the well fancied Romancer battling strongly into third.
Media reports during the week indicated Tiley was bullish about the prospects of Megablast who hadn’t raced since finishing midfield in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) back in October. That confidence was borne out of the six-year-olds impressive fresh-up statistics that included a victory over the same distance at Ellerslie to commence his last campaign plus his ability to handle rain-affected tracks.
"Everything fell into place for him as he’s a horse who races well fresh,” said Tiley as he accepted congratulations after the race.
"I wanted to get him ready first-up as I thought he could do it.
Tiley was also rapt with the performance of Brighton who coincidentally had won one of the day’s other feature events, the Listed Diamond Lodge Champagne Stakes (1600m), as a two-year-old back in 2015.
"He’s (Brighton) flying,” he said.
"He hasn’t shown anything on a wet track for a while, but he had been working well.”
Tiley will now recommend a Queensland campaign for Megablast although he admitted he hadn’t discussed that eventuality with gelding’s owners before the race.
"I think we might have to go to Queensland on that,” he said.
"I haven’t discussed it with the owner’s yet, but I’ll get them now.
"He’s such an honest horse that just eats wet tracks but also tries so hard on top of the ground.”
With the victory Megablast advanced his career record to nine wins from just 28 starts with close to $270,000 in stakes earnings.
A bold front-running ride by Jockey’s Premiership leader Samantha Collett landed local runner Azaboy a handsome winner of the Gr.2 Valachi Downs Championship Stakes (2200m) at Pukekohe.
Part owned by ex-pat kiwi and Welsh rugby coach Warren Gatland, the Azamour three-year-old had shown he could handle a testing track when he beat the well-regarded Mongolian Marshal to break his maiden on a Heavy11 surface on his home track back in February.
Collett was at her pace-making best as she dictated a muddling speed in front before booting clear on Azaboy rounding the home bend. Sent for home the nuggety bay never looked like flinching as he held out all challenges to register a length and a quarter victory from the well favoured Gundown, who pipped Azaboy’s stablemate Time Lord for second by a bare nose.
Trainer Richard Collett had Azaboy tuned up for his first attempt at stakes company with a win over a similar distance at his last run and was feeling confident as the rain came before the race.
"The showers of rain on the day, including the last one before the race was held, really did help as it slowed the other ones down,” he said.
"He’s tough horse who has been a real slow maturer.”
Collett was delighted with both of his runners as he had found it hard to split them before the race.
"To be fair there’s never been much between him (Azaboy) and Time Lord,” said Collett.
"We’ll have to see how he comes through the race as he is such a light framed horse before we look at anything else.
"I’m not sure but we might have a go at something later on in Queensland, but he will have to have the constitution to handle it.”
Race favourite Sherrif loomed into contention on the home bend but never appeared to handle the heavy track conditions as he battled home into a well beaten fifth.”