New Hastings trainer Tina Wood has made a dream start to her career, producing a winner from her first starter.
Rockweiler was Wood's first runner when he stepped out in a 1200m maiden race at Hastings last Thursday and the Keeninsky gelding followed up an easy win over 1000m at the Hastings jumpouts on October 8 with a decisive 1-length victory.
Wood, 27, has had her trainer's licence for three months and Rockweiler is one of two horses she has in work. The other is an unraced 3-year-old filly by Any Suggestion out of Melanie, making her a half-sister to the well-performed The Knight.
Wood has a degree in equine science and worked for a time at the famous Arrowfield Stud in Australia. She was a partner in Eqwine Thoroughbreds, which prepared yearlings for this year's Karaka sales.
Rockweiler had two starts last season from the Hastings stable of John Bary, finishing fourth in his debut over 1200m at Woodville and then sixth over 1340m at Wanganui.
Hastings breeder Steve Ryan owns the 4-year-old who is out of a Shinko King mare he bought for just $200.
"It's a big thrill because it's the first horse that I have bred that has won," Ryan said.
"All the credit goes to Tina because he has not been an easy horse to train. He has taken time but is now a lot more relaxed," he added.
Ryan has a yearling half-sister to Rockweiler, by Bachelor Duke, coming on and the mare Medoody is back in foal to Bachelor Duke.
Star in the making
Hastings orchardist Reg White's first venture into ownership is a big winner.
White is a member of the Go Racing Almighty Dawn Syndicate which races star 2-year-old Ruud Awakening. The Bernardini filly made it two wins from two starts with another outstanding performance in Saturday's listed $50,000 Wellesley Stakes at Trentham and winning jockey Jason Waddell immediately labelled her "a superstar in the making".
Ruud Awakening won the 1000m event by 2 lengths, accelerating clear in the final stages once Waddell asked the filly to extend.
"She reminds me a lot of Naturo, who has been one of the best fillies I have ridden," Waddell said.
"I could have ridden her anywhere in that race she was doing it so easily. I just held her up for as long as I could and once I gave her a couple of flicks with the whip she took off."
Ruud Awakening, who had also been an easy 5 length winner at her race debut over 800 metres at Avondale, is trained at Cambridge by Stephen Marsh who rates her one of the best he has had in his stable.
Marsh has the $1 million Karaka Million (1200m) at Ellerslie on January 27 as Ruud Awakening's main target this season and is unsure whether she will have one more run now or go out for a short break.
"If we think she needs another race we could run her in the Murdoch Newell Stakes at Pukekohe in three weeks time," Marsh said."She's guaranteed a start in the Karaka Million now so that has taken a bit of pressure off us.
Reg White is one of 10 people involved in the Go Racing Almighty Dawn Syndicate, which is managed by Albert Bosma. He and Marsh bought Ruud Awakening for $90,000 at this year's premier session at the Karaka yearling sales.
The filly is out of the Danehill mare Dawn Almighty, who was a winner over 1100m in Adelaide and is closely related to the dual Group 2 winner Ruud Van Slaats.
Mare highly rated
Hermosa Novia owned and bred by Bay-based Elliot Cooper, went some way towards living up to her reputation with an upset win at last Thursday's local meeting.
The Handsome Ransom mare capped a great week for Awapuni trainer Ashley Meadows, who had also produced impressive first starter Chev Chelios and McDaids to win at Wanganui the previous Saturday.
They are three of just four horses Meadows is racing at the moment among the 10 horses he has in work, the other being Mint.
Although Hermosa Novia was at odds of 20/1, Meadows expected a bold run from the mare, especially once the track was rated a good 3.
"All her form has been on good tracks and she was nominated for the New Zealand Oaks as a 3-year-old so we've always had a high opinion of her," Meadows said.
Dragon roars again
Bay-bred Ambitious Dragon showed why he is regarded as one of the best horses ever to race in Hong Kong when he came back from a five month spell to score a sensational fresh-up win in the $HK3million ($$560,000) Sha Tin Trophy there on Sunday night.
The 6-year-old Pins gelding settled towards the back in the early stages of the 1600m event before improving quickly around the field approaching the home turn and then raced clear to score by 1 lengths, lumping topweight of 60.3kg.
It was his 11th win from 21 starts and he has twice been Hong Kong Horse of the Year.
Trainer Tony Millard said he will now run in the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile on November 18, before going on to either the Hong Kong Mile or Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in December.
Ambitious Dragon was bred by Taupo's Pat Lowry and did his early preparation from the Hastings stable of his son Guy. The horse was sold privately to a Hong Kong owner.