Major Tom (Chris Johnson, maroon colours) reels in Jake The Muss (Sam Collett) in the Whangarei Gold Cup.
The New Zealand Cup is looming large on the horizon for Ruakaka stayer Major Tom, who completed a hat-trick of wins at his home track in today’s $35,000 ITM/GIB Whangarei Gold Cup.
The Red Giant gelding had already won four races this season – a Rating 70 at Pukekohe, a Rating 65 at Ellerslie, and impressive Rating 75 victories at Ruakaka in his previous two starts.
Today he stepped up to open class and did it again. Fellow New Zealand Cup aspirant Jake The Muss had made a bold move to take the lead early in the run home, but Major Tom began to warm up down the outside of the track.
With Chris Johnson taking over from the suspended Jasmine Fawcett, the chestnut came with giant strides to reel in Jake The Muss and win by a short neck. Kyrie Eleison was another three and a half lengths away in third, completing an all-Ruakaka trifecta – Jake The Muss and Kyrie Eleison are both from the stable of Chris Gibbs and Michelle Bradley.
“I wasn’t sure halfway down the straight, I thought the other horse might have had us,” said Kenny Rae, who trains in partnership with his wife Lisa and their daughter Krystal Williams. “But it was another good win in the end.”
Major Tom’s connections turned down an offer during the week for the four-year-old, who has now won six of his 17 starts and more than $100,000 in prize-money.
Major Tom is out of Letsgoparty, who also won the Whangarei Gold Cup in 2008. Letsgoparty’s half-sister Smedley won the race in 2016 and 2017.
Rae indicated that the Taumarunui Gold Cup at Rotorua on July 28 is the likely next target for Major Tom, who will then have a short break before embarking on his New Zealand Cup preparation.
Major Tom was the second consecutive winner on today’s card for visiting South Island jockey Johnson, who also guided the proven black-type performer Aim Smart to a bold first-up win in the Whangarei ITM Rating 75. The three-year-old Smart Missile gelding, owned by the China Horse Club, is now trained by Lauren Brennan.