English jumps jockey Stuart Higgins has combined with the South Island’s leading jumps stable for a runaway victory in the $75,000 Hospitality NZ Grand National Hurdles at Riccarton.
After chasing home impressive northerner Laekeeper in Saturday’s Sydenham Hurdles, the Brian and Shane Anderton-trained Jackfrost turned the tables when it counted most in today’s 4200-metre feature.
Laekeeper set the pace through the middle stages after Go Go Gonzo had gone to a clear early lead, but when Jackfrost cruised through to challenge approaching the final turn it was obvious this was going to be an occasion for the south to celebrate.
Higgins was busy on Jackfrost with two fences remaining and put the issue to bed when he asked him for a big jump over the last. At the line the grey son of Gallant Guru was on his own, completing a memorable day for Higgins after he had ridden Blues Breaker, trained by his partner Amanda Schwarz, to an all-the-way win in the opening maiden hurdle event.
Higgins is in his fourth season of riding in New Zealand and today’s double took the 26-year-old’s tally to 20 wins.
Laekeeper fought bravely for second, while Second Innings held his place to take third.