Tomelilla (Troy Harris) beats her stablemate Deals In Heel to set up a new record for champion trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
A new record for wins in a season is now a formality for the champion training duo of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman after they equalled their own benchmark today.
The all-conquering Cambridge stable’s day began when Karisto won the opening race at Rotorua and continued in the fourth at New Plymouth with maiden graduate Replica. Highlad made it a stable treble in the Rotorua Cup, then it was the turn of Tomelilla to replicate her trainers’ record when she led a stable quinella in the Gr. 3 ISCL Rotorua Stakes.
When Baker and Forsman won their first premiership in the 2014-15 season they surpassed John Sargent’s previous record of 111 wins by three. Today’s four-win bag took them level with the 114-win record and now they have another two and a half months to set what may well be an unassailable mark for the future.
Tomelilla was one of four stable runners in today’s fillies and mares’ feature, but the contingent was reduced to three when last-start Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes winner Power O’Hata was late scratched due to the deteriorating track conditions. She was one of eight late withdrawals on the Rotorua programme, which included pre-post Rotorua Stakes favourite Miss Wilson and another leading candidate in Awapuni mare Sweepstake.
At double figure odds Tavistock mare Tomelilla rated well below her well fancied stablemate Deals in Heels, but in the end she got the upper hand after a tactical battle between their respective riders Troy Harris and Jonathan Riddell.
Both mares settled at the rear of the compact field and Deals In Heels was the first to move with 600 metres to run, followed closely by Tomelilla. Once around the home turn they drew clear of their rivals and Tomelilla the asserted herself as she put a length and three-quarter margin on her stablemate.
Such was their dominance, third placegetter O’Angel was nine lengths behind at the line, with another four and a half lengths to Underthemoonlight in fourth.
“Deals In Heels was our best chance on paper, but Tomelilla had been working well,” commented Forsman. “She’s come back looking good and had trained on well from her first-up second last month.”
Tomelilla, now the winner of six of her 21 starts, is raced by Baker’s wife Maryanne in partnership with Auckland solicitor Greg Jones.
For Troy Harris, the win was a further significant step in his comeback after getting on top of weight issues, his first black-type win since the 2013-14 season.
“She was always travelling well under me and handling the ground and when I tracked up behind Deals In Heels I knew she was going to be hard to beat,” Harris said. “In the end it was just matter of waiting for the right time to ask her to go and she’s won well.
“Jonathan (Riddell) had already won his share today, so it was time for someone else to get a turn,” he joked.