Local gelding making Strides at Otaki

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  • July 18, 2023
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Local gelding Strides added to his winning haul at Otaki on Friday when taking out the Cavallo Farm & Chris Rutten Bloodstock Handicap (1200m), but it wasn’t without its drama.

The son of Spieth missed the jump by several lengths, but quickly recovered his deficit under the urgings of apprentice jockey Ngakau Hailey.

His tardy beginning wasn’t missed by the leaders, with jockey Madan Singh setting a hot tempo up front aboard Vesmart, opening up a six-length lead turning for home.

Hailey navigated his way around the field and Strides showed his turn of foot down the home straight to run down Vesmart to win by 1-3/4 lengths, with a further half head back to Littleredcorvette in third.

While punters may have been concerned during the running of the race, trainers Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard were always confident that their charge would reel in the runaway leader.

“That is just him, he tends to be a bit slow off the mark and he has got a pretty strong finish on him,” Wynyard said.

“You sort of expect him to get back like that, it is his racing pattern.

“Ngakau did a great job on him. I said to keep him in touch and to get him up there as close as you can, and he got him a bit handier than I thought he would have him.

“He rode him well and he looks like a promising rider.”

It was Strides’ first start back since his unplaced run in the Gr.2 Wellington Guineas (1400m) in January, and his trainers believe he is capable of winning again at short notice.

“He had a trial at Foxton and he had a quiet jumpout on Tuesday at Levin. He was ready for today, so we were quietly confident,” Wynyard said.

“We will just tick along, hopefully he stays in 65 grade and we get another 65 win out of him.”

It’s been a quiet few months for the Otaki barn, however, it is starting to get busier with their spring racing team well into their preparations.

“We don’t really have many winter horses, he is probably it,” Wynyard said.

“We have a lot of spring horses coming up that have had a few gallops.

“They are all pretty nice and are putting their hand up. There is not really a topliner, but there are two yearlings I quite like. We will just see how they come up and what they can do.”

Meanwhile, stakes winner Hold The Press has been retired to the broodmare paddock and is on her way to Australia to be served this spring.

The rising six-year-old won six and placed in five of her 22 starts, including victory in the Listed Levin Stakes (1200m).

“She is retired and is off to be a mum,” Wynyard said.

“She was such a genuine mare, she tried her heart out and we couldn’t have asked any more of her.

“She had done enough for us and the owner likes to breed, so I think she is now off to Australia.”

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