The potent combination of Hiflyer and jockey Johnathan Parkes reunited for a superb Ruakaka win this afternoon.
Hiflyer has won richer and more prestigious races than today’s $35,000 Clansman Hotel Bream Bay Bowl at Ruakaka, but his come-from-behind victory ranks among the standout performances of his 21-start, nine-win career.
Making his first start since his third placing in the Gr. 1 Thorndon Mile in January, the high-class gelding had to carry 61.5 kilograms. He was giving at least seven and a half kilograms to all of his rivals, including the stakes-performed local mare Rikki Tikki Tavi.
That rival looked even harder to beat when she took the lead in the straight, with Hiflyer boxed in on the rail and desperate for a way through.
Rider Johnathan Parkes got him into clear air inside the last 200 metres, and Hiflyer accelerated the way only a top-class horse can. He charged home between Rikki Tikki Tavi and Fire Jet, snatching victory by a neck.
“That was definitely worth making the trip for,” said Parkes, who came north from his central districts base for just one ride.
“He looks great – he’s thickened up a bit. This has been a very good effort under 61.5 kilograms fresh-up.
“The pace was good, and it was just a matter of the gap opening. I always felt like he’d take control of the race once he got into the clear.”
Hiflyer has earned just under $280,000 in prize-money for his owners, Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan and the Go Henry Racing Syndicate.
Trainer Peter Lock, dumbstruck by his stable star’s performance, indicated that a short Australian campaign is now on the agenda.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “I’m not often short of a word, but I don’t know what to say. This horse is a dream come true for me.
“He was only half-ready today, and he was giving some quality horses so much weight. I’m absolutely lost for words.
“I knew we were going to have to ride for luck up the inside, rather than trying to come around them with that big weight. It was a bit of a worry when he was looking for a run, but now I’m just over the moon. There aren’t too many horses around like this.
“We’ll look at Australia now, and then hopefully get him back for the first day of the carnival at Hastings.”
Fire Jet ran on well from worse than midfield to finish second, with Rikki Tikki Tavi third, completing a trifecta for Cambridge Stud stallion Tavistock. The time for the 1200-metre race was a quick 1:09.44.