Nashville (Kate Cowan) charges home from second-last for a superb victory in the Winter Cup.
Dual Group One winner Nashville cemented his place in Riccarton racing folklore with a supreme performance in the Gr. 3 eStar 120th Winter Cup this afternoon.
The Darci Brahma gelding had already endeared himself to Christchurch racegoers with a win and two placings in the Gr. 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile, plus a victory in the Gr. 3 Canterbury Gold Cup. Today he set a new metric weight-carrying record in the $100,000 Winter Cup, defying his 60-kilogram topweight, his advancing years and a holding Heavy11 track for an emphatic win.
Ridden by apprentice jockey Kate Cowan, who brought up her first black-type success, Nashville dropped back to second-last in a strung-out field of 17 and seemed to have plenty of work to do approaching the home turn.
But Cowan timed her run to perfection and nine-year-old Nashville produced his old Group One turn of foot, roaring down the middle of the track and overpowering Doiknowyou and the favourite New York Minute. The veteran had the finish all to himself, crossing the finish line two and a quarter lengths clear to Cowan’s obvious delight.
Owned by Adrian and Robyn Bull and trained by Adrian in partnership with son Harry, Nashville has now had 65 starts for 13 wins, 14 placings and more than $940,000 in prize-money. He was bred by Olympic medallist Blyth Tait under his Chesterfields banner.
Nashville was bought for $40,000 as a Ready to Run two-year-old at Karaka in November 2010, and he began his fabulous racing career with a debut victory at Riccarton 12 months later.
The Bulls showed admirable loyalty to give Cowan the mount in today’s time-honoured race, but she has been instrumental in his form revival in the last six months. Today was her ninth ride on Nashville and her third win, to go with three minor placings including a fast-finishing second in last month’s Listed Opunake Cup.
“This is just such a special moment,” Cowan said. “I’d just like to thank Adrian and Harry Bull for the ride. These things just don’t happen to apprentices, and some people may have had something to say about me riding him. I was so lucky to be sitting in that seat. It was a great training effort from them and he’s a great horse, and I’m thankful to be a part of it.”
Cowan also paid tribute to the retired champion jockey David Walsh, himself a multiple Winter Cup winner, who is now employed by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing and is mentoring young jockeys.
“David Walsh and I walked the track together yesterday, which was very important and it helped a lot today,” said the 24-year-old Cowan, who has now won 10 races in her career. “I felt like I had an earpiece in my ear in the race and he was coaching me along the way.”
Nashville's triumph completed a great day for the Bull family, who had success earlier in the day when Humble Pie won the $25,000 three-year-old race by seven and three-quarter lengths.
Winter Cup runner-up Doiknowyou had been set for this race since April and was game in defeat, finishing over the top of the front-running New York Minute down the straight to take second place. The eight-year-old son of Kashani has now won almost $130,000 in prize-money, with almost half of it coming in his current campaign. He is trained and part-owned by former jumps jockey Ben Ropiha.