Hurdles debutante Iffitel scores an impressive win at Te Rapa for Southland jockey Stuart Higgins.
Heavy rain combined with sand kickback has forced the abandonment of today’s Auckland Racing Club meeting at Te Rapa.
Following the second event on the 11-race card, jumps jockeys complained of visibility issues due to the sand kickback and excessively wet conditions. Stewards instigated a hearing to consider the jockeys’ concerns and after further deliberations with club and other representative, the decision was made to abandon the remainder of the meeting.
Subsequent discussions have confirmed that today’s two PJR races, the Irvines McGregor Grant Steeplechase and K S Browne Hurdle, will be rescheduled for next Saturday’s Trentham meeting. The original Trentham programme that had open entry hurdle and steeplechase races carded has been further amended to now also include maiden races for both disciplines.
The Ssangyong Auckland Futurity Stakes, rescheduled from last week’s abandoned Pukekohe meeting to today, has been further rescheduled for next Saturday’s Te Rapa meeting.
The core problem that led to today’s abandonment stemmed from sand carpeting that took place on the Te Rapa course proper in mid-February. It is understood that a higher volume of sand was distributed in the mid-section of the track. That factor combined with the heavy rain that fell before and during today’s first two races exacerbated the problem.
The only jumps race contested today, the Celebrating Authentic Paddy Hurdle, was won by Iffitel, who didn’t a put a foot wrong in her first start over fences.
In the hands of Southland jockey Stuart Higgins, Iffitel raced on the speed from the start of the 2800-metre contest before taking over from the pacemaker Nom du Beel and racing away to score by eight and a half lengths from The Other Half and Nom du Beel.
The Iffraaj mare, who is trained at Cambridge by Glynn Brick, was the winner of four of her 39 starts on the flat but had been unsighted over jumps before today.
“I didn’t know much about her but some of the guys who did told me that she jumped pretty well,” said Higgins, who answered the call to come north when jumps jockey numbers fell below requirements for the 14-horse maiden hurdle field. “She jumped like an old hand and didn’t mind the wet ground either.”
Today’s opening race, the Celebrating Volpe Veloce 2200 for amateur riders, was won easily by Belle Testa, ridden by one of the most proven in those ranks, Scott Wenn.
Benefitting from a sold pace up front, Wenn brought the Stephen Marsh-trained mare with the last run to race away and score by nearly four lengths from Unveiling (Clinton Isdale) and Wilijonmcbride (Bailey Rogerson).
“The one instruction I gave my foreman Rhys Mildon before he headed to Europe on holiday was to make sure he booked Scott Wenn,” Marsh told www.theinformant.co.nz. “No-one rides better in these amateur races and he sure did the business today.”
Belle Testa, a Testa Rossa mare who carries the Go Racing colours, has now won three of her 14 starts.