Charlie Studd can afford a big look over his shoulder as Zedeedudadeeko strides clear of Game Percy and Kipkeino in the Wellington Hurdle.
After just two fences in the 3400-metre Anuka Smoker Wellington Hurdle, Charlie Studd knew he was on a winner.
Unlike his previous start when he was pulled up in the Awapuni Hurdle, this time Zedeedudadeeko was right on the job as he strolled along and went forward with time to spare. After taking over from the favourite The Shackler, Zedeedudadeeko was unchallenged to add Trentham’s biggest hurdle event to the Great Northern he won at Ellerslie last September.
“He’s never gone any good at Awapuni and it just wasn’t his day,” said Studd. “Today was completely different though. Once he had cleared the second I just knew, he clicked and nothing was going to beat him.
“He took me into the race and I had no option but to let him have a look at The Shackler a long way from home, he was travelling so strongly.
“He’s a special horse to me. I’ve ridden him all the way through and I wouldn’t get off him, never.”
The nine-year-old’s trainer James Phillips treated today’s win as a home track victory, given he is based on the northern side of the Rumutakas at Tauherenikau.
“This is like my home track,” Phillips explained. “It’s a special win for that reason, but then so was the Great Northern – there’s only one Northern.
Phillips paid a special tribute to his 79-year-old mother Annette, who is Zedeedudadeeko’s devoted strapper.
“Mum goes everywhere with this horse and it’s her that keeps me going too, I wouldn’t be doing this without her behind me,” he said.
Two feature hurdle wins at either end of the 2017-18 season have put Zedeedudadeeko right to the fore of Jumper of the Year contention, and now a second Great Northern beckons.
At the line Zedeedudadeeko had two lengths to spare over Game Percy and Kipkeino, who staged a great battle for the minor placings with just a head between them.
The rest were well beaten, with a margin of 20 lengths to fourth placegetter Second Innings, who still ran well in just second jumps start after a long time off the scene. El Corby was fifth, just ahead of The Shackler, who from the outset had no peace in front and was beaten before the home turn.
An even bigger disappointment was previously unbeaten hurdler Iffitel, who began to feel the pinch with a round to go and was pulled up 1200 metres out.
“She took a buffeting at one fence and from that point she never travelled, so the only sensible thing to do was ease her out of it,” said rider Stuart Higgins.