Bridget Grylls returns on Taumarunui Gold Cup winner Rodrico.
The Baker-Forsman juggernaut signed off in the same unstoppable style that has marked a landmark 2017-18 season when Rodrico claimed the country’s richest winter staying handicap, the $65,000 Woods Contracting Taumarunui Gold Cup.
On the final day of the season, the former Hong Kong galloper provided the 142nd win for the Cambridge duo, eclipsing their former record mark of 114 wins when taking their first of three trainers’ premierships in 2014-15. Further impressive statistics include 20 New Zealand black-type wins (along with three Group wins in Melbourne), domestic stakes nudging $4.5 million and a strike rate under one in six.
“It’s been a very satisfying season,” said Forsman as he reflected on the past 12 months. “We went into the season knowing we had another good team, and with our numbers having grown again there was the potential for a big tally.
“The main thing has been our consistency right the way through, and part of that has been the strike rate. There’s a lot of satisfaction knowing you’ve kept winning on a regular basis.”
While the Taumarunui Cup was run for the first time today without black-type status, the win by Rodrico carried the same label of satisfaction. Forsman describes the High Chaparral gelding as having some quirky characteristics, but it all came together on the heavy rated Arawa Park track.
“That’s his ground, he has to have it wet,” Forsman added. “It was a wet track when he finished second in the Queensland Derby for Chris Waller, then he went to Hong Kong but I imagine the tracks would mostly have been too firm for him up there.”
Rodrico won his first start for the Cambridge partners over 1600 metres at Hawera in May and in four subsequent starts before today had put together two seconds, a third and a fifth placing. The rising six-year-old is still owned in Hong Kong by Johnson Chen, whose best horse is the Tavistock gelding and former Hong Kong Horse of the Year Werther.
While winning races has long been par for the course for the Baker-Forsman stable, today’s victory was a significant breakthrough for jockey Bridget Grylls. Several weeks after returning from a three-year stint in Brisbane, the 25-year-old has won just one race from 37 raceday mounts, and now she’s hoping that a feature race win will increase her opportunities.
“It’s good to be back home and even better to get a win like this,” Grylls said. “He made me work for it, when he got to the front he pricked ears as if he had done the job.
“Luckily he responded when I asked him to, and even though I know it wasn’t by much, I’ll take it thanks.”
As she has done all winter during a busy and productive campaign, Opaki mare Trisha Lea gave her all before going down by a head. Cameron Lammas brought her through the inside from midfield to challenge on the turn and she fought all the way to the line in what is expected to be the final run for the year.
Four lengths behind the first two, Jochen Rindt battled on after taking the lead with 600 metres to run, while El Luchador made ground from well back without threatening to finish fourth.