Megablast (Michael Coleman) heads a Nigel Tiley quinella in the Manco Easter Handicap.
Pukekohe trainers made the most of the transfer of Ellerslie’s traditional Easter Handicap meeting due to track renovations, claiming both $100,000 features on the Counties Racing Club course this afternoon.
Richard Collett was the first to strike on his home course, saddling up first and third placegetters Azaboy and Time Lord in the Gr. 2 Valachi Downs Championship Stakes, and in the following race Nigel Tiley upstaged his colleague with a quinella in the Gr. 2 Manco Easter Handicap.
Tiley’s big result with Megablast and Brighton was a masterstroke. Knowing full well Megablast’s first-up ability, he set him for the big 1600-metre race months ago and it all came together with a three-quarter-length win over his stablemate Brighton.
The time of 1:42.32 and a 30-length margin from first to last underlined the testing conditions, but it made no difference to Megablast.
“From the time we decided to set him for the race I knew he was a chance, then my confidence just kept growing when the rain came and we ended up with a heavy track.
“In the end he won it easily, but that’s not taking anything away from the other horse. He had to come from last and go round them, so it was a good effort from him to make a race of it.”
Michael Coleman, riding Megablast for the first time since a fresh-up win on the grey at Ellerslie last August, admitted today’s victory didn’t come easily but in the end it was fairly straight forward.
“We had a good run in the field but coming towards the turn he started copping a fair bit of backwash and we were going nowhere,” Coleman said. “We managed to find a way through them though, and he was strong up the straight.
“Once I got him into the clear nothing was going to beat him.”
Megablast, now the winner of nine of his 28 starts for owner-breeders John and Dianne Bowbyes, has already had two brief but unsuccessful Australian campaigns and now it will be case of third time lucky as another beckons.
“He’s come back so much bigger and stronger this time round, so I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” Tiley said. “After seeing him do that we’d have to go now, so it looks like we’ll be off to Queensland.
“His favourite ground is this heavy stuff, but he’s got form on better tracks too, so he can go across and have a crack at some of those nice races.”
The Tiley pair’s dominance was illustrated by the gap of nearly for lengths to third placegetter Romancer, who got past the pacemaker Admiral in the final stages. Last year’s Easter winner Seventh Up never got into the act under topweight and beat only four others to the finish.