Game Percy (Shaun Fannin, nearer) and Joking (Aaron Kuru) clear the last fence together in the Manawatu Steeplechase.
A big season for owners Dr John and Di Bowbyes continued with Game Percy’s victory in the $50,000 L J Hooker Manawatu Steeplechase at Awapuni this afternoon.
The Queenstown-based couple tasted Group Two glory two months ago with Easter Handicap winner Megablast, who has subsequently picked up a placing in the Gr. 2 P J O’Shea Stakes in Queensland, and today they added a major jumping win to their haul.
The Kevin Myers-trained Game Percy, a six-year-old having just his second steeplechase start, came out on top in a thrilling finish to the 4200-metre feature.
Thenamesbond had a clear lead for most of the race, but the field bunched up at the 600-metre mark and all of the eight runners were in with a chance.
Joking went to a clear lead in the straight, with rider Aaron Kuru looking for his third win of the day and a feature-race double.
But Game Percy and Shaun Fannin came strongly down the outside, gradually overhauling a gallant Joking and winning by a half-neck.
“He probably put the writing on the wall at Trentham the other day when he made up good ground to finish just behind them (fifth in the K S Browne Hurdle),” Fannin told NZ Racing Desk.
“This has been a top effort for a maiden chaser, but he is typical of Kevin’s horses in that he has been jumping for a couple of years, so he is pretty proficient over both the hurdles and the bigger fences.
“He jumped well the whole way and responded nicely when I asked him to come into it down the back the last time. He hit the last well and was too strong in the run home, which is the sign of a pretty good horse.”
The winner’s stablemate I’ve Got This, a former McGregor Grant winner having his first steeplechase start for more than two years, was six lengths away in third.
Game Percy has now had 15 starts for three wins, six placings and more than $56,000 in prize-money. He had previously won once on the flat and once over hurdles, and his only previous steeplechase start was a fourth placing in a Wanganui maiden last September.