Duke Of Wellington and Brent Barclay win the Southern Supremacy Final at Ascot Park. Photo: Wild Range Photography.
There was never any doubt in his new owner’s mind that Duke Of Wellington would win Sunday’s Group 2 $45,000 Southern Supremacy Stakes Final.
“I truly expected him to win,” said Merv Butterworth, who with his wife Meg purchased the horse for big money earlier in the week.
His faith was rewarded when the giant son of American Ideal proved too good for a field of classy three-year-olds, benefiting from a peach of a drive from Brent Barclay.
The Butterworths raced him in partnership with breeder and original owner Lester Smith, of Invercargill, for today’s race but took sole ownership as soon as he hit the finish line.
Butterworth said he could have purchased Duke Of Wellington a month ago at a cheaper rate.
“I could have got him for much less about four weeks ago, but I wanted to make sure he was what I was presuming.
“But the more he kept winning, the higher the price went. That’s the way it goes some times.”
Butterworth’s confidence stemmed from a supposedly objective assessment of the field.
“When I compared him to the opposition, I started to struggle to find what was going to be a tough horse to beat.
“After reviewing the field, I doubled the size of my bet.”
Butterworth paid tribute to the horse’s trainer Lauren Pearson and her partner, Barclay, for their conditioning skills and the latter’s drive.
“Brent is an excellent driver; he doesn’t get rattled and you couldn’t panic him if you tried.
“He drove the perfect race.”
Duke Of Wellington will now head to the property of the Butterworths’ good friend Diane Cournane to spell for two months.
Whether he goes to Brett Gray, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Tony Herlihy, Kerryn Manning or one of the Butterworths’ other trainers is yet to be decided.
“I haven’t thought about it,” said Merv.
“I’ll see what the racing programmes are like before I make up my mind.”
It was a first Group race win for Pearson, who has trained a small team on and off for 20 years.
“It’s a shame he’s going, but you’ve got to take the good with the bad,” she said post-race.
She attributed the horse’s run of four wins in a row due to experience and maturity.
“He’s just grown up and learned how to race. But he over-raced bit today so he might have been a little bit too well.”
Hail Christian was exceptional in running second for Christchurch trainer Paul Court after doing a mountain of work over the last lap while Franco Santino finished on for third.