The $100,000 Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship at Ellerslie on New Year's Day is now the long-range goal for Hastings galloper Peso, who made it two wins in a row with another runaway victory last Saturday.
The Colombia 6-year-old took out a $22,500 Rating 65 race over 2100m by 4-3/4 lengths at the Tauranga meeting and that followed a 4 length win over 1950m at Rotorua on October 21.
He now boasts a record of three wins, two seconds and two thirds from 13 starts for Hastings trainer Paul Nelson, who races the horse with his wife Carol.
Paul Nelson said this week Peso will now try to earn some valuable points in the Dunstan Stayers series so as to guarantee a start in the final, which is run over 2200m.
"He'll probably go to Ellerslie at the beginning of next month," Nelson said.
"There is a Rating 75 race over 2100m there on December 2 or one over 2200m on December 9 and we'll look at running him in one of those two."
Although he was the winner of two races before last Saturday, Peso was still eligible for a Rating 65 grade race as the handicapper had obviously not put a lot of emphasis on the horse's two minor placings in amateur races earlier this season.
He was carded to carry topweight of 60kg but Nelson engaged promising Singapore-born apprentice Hairi Marzuki, who was able to claim a 3kg allowance.
Peso drew the extreme outside barrier and was forced to travel three-wide for almost the entire race yet still raced clear of his rivals over the final stages for a dominant win.
The Nelsons bred Peso out of the unraced Victory Dance mare All Magic and is certainly bred on stout staying lines.
His dam is a full-sister to Hummer, a horse that recorded a win, a second, two thirds and two fourths from 13 hurdle starts.
Exhibited finds form
Hastings-owned Exhibit, a mare that promised plenty as an early 3-year-old last season, bounced back to form with a good win in a $22,500 Rating 65 race over 1250m at Awapuni last Saturday.
Trainer David Goldsbury, who prepares Exhibit on the Awapuni track, said the filly had suffered a few setbacks and been unsuited by wet tracks but is now back to 100 per cent fitness and that certainly showed with her excellent performance last Saturday.
Apprentice jockey Timothy Johnson bounced Exhibit out quickly from the barrier and had her sitting outside the leader Pure Daze until the top of the home straight.
The mare then shot to the front and showed great tenacity to fight off a late challenge by the topweight Abbey Road to score by a long neck.
The Moughans acquired Exhibit after buying her dam, Royal Show, for $16,000 at a dispersal sale of stock owned by the late Jim Campin.
The mare was in foal to Iffraaj at the time and Exhibit was the resultant foal.
Royal Show is by Deputy Governor and was the winner of four races including the listed Gore Guineas.
She is also the dam of Folding Gear (by Johar), who won four races in Australia including three stakes races at Caulfield, the Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m), Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) and Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m).
Royal Show has also left Royal Striker, who won two races in Australia; Cactus Jack, who has been twice successful in Singapore and Royal Success, who was a $130,000 yearling purchase by David Ellis of Te Akau Thoroughbreds and has won five of his 10 starts.
Since foaling Exhibit, Royal Show has produced a 2-year-old colt by Niagara and is due to foal this year to El Roca.
Exhibit came through last Saturday's win in such good order that Goldsbury was keen to back her up in a Rating 65 race over 1200m at Otaki yesterday.
Hastings races Sunday
Another family day of racing is planned for Hastings this Sunday with eight races carded in what will be the first Christmas at the Races meeting in the district this year.
The first race is timed for 1.25pm and the last at 5.30pm, with the main event being a Rating 75 over 1200m which has drawn an even field of very promising gallopers.
There will be a $10 gate charge with free admission for anyone under 18 years old and tickets to the members stand are $30 each.
Distance too far
The New Zealand-bred Humidor failed to cope with the distance of Tuesday's Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), according to his rider Blake Shinn.
"He just doesn't run the two miles, it's as simple as that.
"He gave me a nice ride throughout, but the pressure went on and he didn't respond."
Despite his unplaced effort, the Darren Weir-trained Humidor has enjoyed a lucrative spring campaign with a victory in the Group 1 Maybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and placings in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).
The Teofilo 5-year-old finished second behind Willie Cazals in the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings in the spring of last year, when prepared by the Otaki training partnership of Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard.
Fanatic sparks memories
Eight years after Rich Hill Stud stallion Shocking won the Melbourne Cup, a daughter of the highly successful sire graced the winner's stall at Tuesday's big Cup day at Flemington.
Fanatic, a 5-year-old mare by Shocking out of the Groom Dancer mare Komplete Klass, claimed top honours in the undercard staying contest, the A$130,000 Ronald McDonald House Plate (2800m).
She was ridden by Kiwi jockey Michael Walker and produced a brilliant late burst to score by 1-1/4 lengths.
Fanatic triumphed in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) for Te Awamutu trainers Graeme Sanders and Debbie Sweeney before transferring to the powerful Victorian operation of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig.
Tuesday's win came at her sixth start from her new quarters.
"She was in season at her last start so we were looking for her to bounce back," said Jack Kiernan, son of the mare's Taranaki breeder and owner Sean Kiernan.
Shocking won the 2009 running of the Melbourne Cup when ridden by Corey Brown and he was again the successful jockey in Tuesday's cup, aboard the European entrant Rekindling.
Shocking is also the sire of the talented stayer Chocante, who will be given opportunities to star at weight-for-age during a two-start summer campaign.
The 5-year-old is back in New Zealand after an Australian spring campaign and has rejoined the Cambridge stable of Stephen Marsh.
Chocante will open his summer campaign in the Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on December 9 ahead of the Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
"If he wins or goes very well in the Zabeel, which is his main goal, then we might take him back to Sydney in the autumn," Marsh said.
The winner of last season's Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2200m) and the Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m) raced creditably during his first campaign in Sydney.
Chocante resumed with a placing behind the champion mare Winx in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) before he finished out of the money in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m).
The gelding bounced back to finish third in the Group 1 Metropolitan (2400m) and was then seventh in the St Leger Stakes (2600m) before heading for a break.
"He had 10 days in a nice paddock over there before coming home," Marsh said.
"He won't take too much work to get ready, he's still got that residual fitness after racing over 2600m."
Comeback date confirmed
Dual Group 1 winner Start Wondering is likely to kick off a new campaign at Otaki at the beginning of next month.
Connections had originally pencilled in this Saturday's Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m) as the starting point for the champion sprinter's resuming run, but have now delayed his return until the Listed Chainey's Panasonic Levin Stakes (1200m) on December 1.
"He's had a couple of jumpouts, but he needs another jumpout, trial or a gallop at the races," said J J Rayner, who trains Start Wondering with her father Evan.
Start Wondering was crowned champion New Zealand sprinter for the last racing season following his Group 1 victories in the Sistema Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie and NRM Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa.
He also finished a gallant second behind Signify in the Group 1 Telegraph Sprint (1200m) at Trentham.