Capucine (Jonathan Riddell) returned to action with an impressive win at Te Rapa.
Champion trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman are firmly on track for a fourth premiership title, and their outstanding season continued with excellent results at three venues yesterday.
Madison County was an impressive two-year-old winner at Hastings, Zacada ran a superb race for second in the Gr. 1 Sydney Cup at Randwick, and there was another victory closer to home when lightly raced five-year-old Capucine commenced her autumn campaign on a winning note at Te Rapa.
The three-quarter sister to champion galloper So You Think looked something special when she scored on debut at Te Rapa in November, but an aversion to firm tracks over the summer months saw her set aside after she disappointed in her next run.
Punters obviously remembered that stylish debut victory as they installed her a warm favourite to resume on a winning note in yesterday's Rating 65 sprint.
That confidence looked to have gone astray when Capucine was battling to pick up race leader Pitch And Switch with just 200 metres to run, but under a desperate ride from Jonathan Riddell the mare drove hard at the finish to snatch the victory by a bare nose.
“She has got plenty of ability, but as she hadn’t started for four months, we were worried she might feel the pinch towards the end of the race,” said Forsman.
“She looked like she was battling when the other horse shot clear, but Jonathan got to work, and she showed a good turn of foot to pick that other horse up in the end.
“We do think she will get over more ground, and that probably confirmed it for us with how strong she was at the end.”
Forsman is in no hurry with the mare, preferring to see her work her way through the grades while she has track conditions in her favour.
“She just doesn’t handle the really firm ground, so that’s why we put her aside over the summer,” he said.
“Now the tracks are starting to loosen up she should be in her element, so we think she can make her way through the grades.
“As a three-quarter to So You Think she is a very valuable mare, so the opportunity to grab some black type is the ultimate goal for her.”
While the Baker/Forsman team were on the right side of the ledger with this photo-finish, it didn't go their way when Who Shot Thebarman edged out Zacada in the Sydney Cup.
“He went a super race and when he shot to the front along the inside we thought he might be home,” said Forsman.
“He probably got all favours in the race, but just couldn’t quite withstand the other horse who was out in the middle of the track.
“It was a great effort, but you do think what might have been when a head makes A$800,000 worth of difference in your payday!”