The Shackler (Aaron Kuru) shows his style on the weay to a special win in the K S Browne Hurdle.
Hawke’s Bay jumps racing enthusiast Paul Nelson returned to the scene of his first feature race victory more than 40 years ago for a win of greater significance than most others since.
Back in 1987 Nelson and his wife Carol won the Wellington Steeplechase at Trentham with Storm and nearly 200 wins later The Shackler added the K S Browne Hurdle with a bold-fronting performance for Aaron Kuru.
Earlier in the day Kuru had also worn the red and black Nelson colours to victory in the maiden steeplechase on Perry Mason, but The Shackler’s win in the race honouring jumps racing icon Ken Browne was something else.
“It’s a real pleasure to win the K S Browne,” Nelson said. “Carol and Ann (Browne) are first cousins and Ken and Ann got us started, they found Storm for us.”
Nelson has made a great start to the 2018 jumps season, with earlier wins including the Waikato Hurdle at Te Rapa last month with The Shackler. The former northern galloper was handed to Nelson after bowing a tendon and has made a superb comeback under a farm-training regime.
Last winter he was a runaway maiden hurdle winner at Trentham and then added the Wellington Hurdle, which was transferred to Hastings. A further transfer of the K S Browne hurdle following last week’s Te Rapa abandonment mattered little to The Shackler, who was all class in today’s 3200-metre contest.
Under topweight of 69 kilograms, he took up his usual pacemaking role and was simply too strong despite being challenged all of 1000 metres from the finish. First Wee Biskit levelled up to eyeball him, then it was the turn of Thatz David, but neither could sustain the challenge as The Shackler forged ahead.
The big Istidaad gelding was a bit chancey over the last flight but that wasn’t enough to halt his momentum as he raced clear to score by nearly eight lengths.
Rising 13-year-old Thatz David suggested he’s still got what it takes with his second placing, as did Wee Biskit as she battled on for third.
“I was a bit worried when they started coming at him,” commented Nelson, “but in the end he was too tough.”
Those sentiments were shared by Aaron Kuru, who has formed such a fruitful relationship with the Nelson stable. “He got away with a nice soft lead early but they had their chance,” he said. “What a good performance to kick on like he did.”