Hiflyer (Johnathan Parkes, centre) edges out Splurge (inside) and Volkstok'n'barrell in the Eagle Technology Stakes.
Four days after announcing the sale of Cambridge Stud, Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan’s distinctive green colours were carried to a spectacular Gr. 3 Eagle Technology Stakes victory by Hiflyer at Ellerslie this afternoon.
After four decades at the helm of a stud that they built into one of the world’s finest, the Hogans will hand it over to Auckland couple Brendan and Jo Lindsay in early 2018. But they will remain actively involved in breeding and racing, with Hiflyer one of their biggest stars.
A five-year-old son of Cambridge Stud stallion Tavistock, Hiflyer had won seven of his 17 starts before today including a career-best victory in the Gr. 3 Thompson Handicap at Trentham last time out. This afternoon he added a race of equal stature, and he did so with an even better performance.
Ridden by Johnathan Parkes, who continued his association with Hiflyer at Ellerslie today in preference to riding at his local meeting at Wanganui, the $2.80 favourite sat well back in the 13-horse field and was stuck behind a wall of horses early in the run home.
As Parkes desperately searched for a way through, Splurge and a resurgent Volkstok’n’barrell had raced to the front and looked set to fight out the finish. Then suddenly Hiflyer dived through between them to win by a head.
“There weren’t a lot of runs in the straight, but eventually we managed to find one,” said Parkes, who has now ridden Hiflyer six times for four wins and two placings.
“For him to change gears like that and get up to win was a very good performance.”
Bred by the Hogans, who race him in partnership with the Go Henry Racing Syndicate, Hiflyer has now earned more than $235,000 in prize-money.
The result was a huge relief for trainer Peter Lock, who has had to change plans after Hiflyer showed signs of fatigue on his arrival back from Trentham. He was also held up by a stone bruise a fortnight ago.
“I’m relieved it’s over – it’s been a nervous week,” he said. “But I have to say that I think this is my biggest thrill ever in racing. He’s had those setbacks, and then halfway up the straight I didn’t think he was going to get a run. He just showed the devastating speed that he’s got.
“We’re thrilled to have a horse like this. He’s a brilliant horse. We’re so grateful to Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan for giving us the chance to have a horse like this. Everyone at the stable loves him and he’s a pleasure to have in the stable.
“I think he’s definitely got the ability to compete at Group One level, although it might sound strange, but I think he’s going to be even better later. He’s only starting to learn his trade.
“We were originally aiming at the Captain Cook, but we’ve had those setbacks and that’s only a week away now. He doesn’t really back up, and I’ve told Johnathan we’re not likely to go there and he’s taken another ride for the race.
“The horse comes first. We’ll get him home and make a plan. But the first thing we’ll do is enjoy today – it’s pretty exciting.”
Splurge fought well for his second placing, with Volkstok’n’barrell another head away in third. It completed a one-three finish for sons of Tavistock.
After a lack-lustre ninth in the Livamol Classic in his previous start, Volkstok’n’barrell’s return to form was an encouraging sign as he builds towards the Zabeel Classic on Boxing Day. He has never been out of a place in nine starts at Ellerslie.
“That was an absolutely awesome run,” co-trainer and part-owner Donna Logan told www.theinformant.co.nz. “That was much more like it. He’s getting back somewhere near his best and he’ll improve with the run.”