Rise Above This and Brent Barclay, scooting up the passing lane to win on debut. Photo: Wild Range Photography.
Invercargill lawyer Lester Smith has bred himself a couple of exciting types in Duke Of Wellington and Rise Above This, the latter a debut winner at Winton on Saturday, the former at Ascot Park last week.
Both are out the Christian Cullen mare Galleons Honour, bred and raced by Smith, trained at Winton by Lauren Pearson and driven by her partner Brent Barclay.
“I'm not sure how long I've been training for Lester but quite a few years,” Pearson said, “I've had a good number of winners but Lester is a seller and they can be sold at any stage.”
Pearson said Smith's mares reside at Macca Lodge and at weaning time, the foals arrive at her place for handling. From then on, they commute between there and Macca. She currently has eight in work and just the two for Smith.
“They're both the same at home, playful, have a good attitude, laid back but wake up on raceday” Pearson said.
“Rise Above This had two preps as yearling but wasn't really tried. She came back in November and wasn't showing anything at home until her first workout.”
That was in February, the start of an unbeaten winning sequence for the daughter of Bettor's Delight from three workouts two trials and now a race.
Pearson felt the preferential barrier draw for fillies helped today and she would prefer to look for races with similar conditions in the near future rather than take the next two-year-old race available.
Duke Of Wellington, by American Ideal, didn't race at two but has won three of his eight starts this season and a fourth is his worst result.
“He'll race next week then the Supremacy a week later,” said Pearson, who has only had one previous starter in the group two feature.
Smith raced the 1997 Supremacy winner Atitagain from the stable of Wayne Adams.
Galleons Honour has a Somebeachsomewhere yearling filly and is in foal to Sweet Lou.
Flash Party was a second local filly to win on debut.
Bred, owned and trained by Katrina and John Price, she is a three-year-old by American Ideal from the big winning Champagne Party, making her a full sister to Sires Stakes Fillies winner Democrat Party.
Canterbury visitor Spirit Of Delight, trained by former southerner Regan Todd, came with the last run for driver Samantha Ottley to pick up the Southern Belle Speed Series final.
“We stayed out of early rush, got back further than I thought we would but she still had that wicked sprint,” said Ottley.
A non-winner after 12 North Island starts, Spirit Of Delight had her first run for Todd in June last year and has now won four of 12.
“I drive her on the beach for Regan, I've won three on her now,” Ottley said.
Todd's initial employer Brendon McLellan won the Equine Stakes at Winton in December on New Year’s Eve to qualify her for today's final.
Last week's debut winner Mighty Conqueror backed up to win the Nugget Final in 2:55.6 and trainers Mark and Debbie Shirley are now considering him for the Southern Supremacy in a fortnight.
The Winton Businesses Cup went to Royal Bengal, owned in Eastern Southland by Baynes Racing and trained in Canterbury by Ken and Tony Barron.
The raced was marred by the loss of talented colt Aloka who broke down about 400 metres from home.