Fairy tales happen more often in thoroughbred racing than industry play makers may like to admit.
Just ask Cambridge trainer Shelley Hale after veteran Auckland jockey Grant Cooksley nudged Close Up to victory in the opening leg of the Bostock New Zealand Spring Racing Carnival feature race, Tarzino Trophy Daffodil Raceday, in Hastings on September 2.
Hale attributed her maiden group one victory "to the luck of the gods" after the 8-year-old gelding had got in on the morning of the race as the first of four horses on the ballot.
But fairy tales only emerge when racing scribes and pundits fail to rate racehorses.
That is something Hastings trainer John Bary is quite mindful of as his horse, Miss Wilson, got into the 1600m group one feature race, the Windsor Park Plate, at 4.25pm this Saturday by the skin of her teeth.
"The horses don't read the newspaper or anything like that so at the end of the day it doesn't hurt us at all," says Bary.
As far as he is concerned Miss Wilson is training well so provided she scores a good track and a kind barrier anything is possible.
"She's massively at long odds because all the so-called experts don't pick her at all but at the end of the day it's their opinion," he says of the mare who he feels is adept at jumping out of barrier 11.
Miss Wilson was right at the bottom in making the cut in the field of 14, to the delight of Bary.
"She was a late nomination and another horse came out so we got the start," he says of the 5-year-old Bay mare who finished runner-up over 1200m in the Telperion Trophy premier race of the Tarzino Trophy Daffodil Raceday meeting of the Bostock New Zealand Spring Racing Carnival in Hastings on September 2.
"She was a really good second to a good horse and we were giving five kilos away so we were carrying six-and-a-half kilos," says Barry of a 55.5kg Francaletta, who won that rating 85 race after Miss Wilson, on 90 points, lugged weights in a bag.
The $200,000 weight-for-age plate race will negate the need for such measures on Saturday.
But it's Miss Wilson's four on-the-trot victories from January to March this year that will make prudent punters do a double take on the $26-and-over odds.
"For a good horse on a good track I expect to see a good run," Bary says. "She's a half sister of Jimmy Choux and Jonathan Riddell's riding her so he's a jockey who won everything on Jimmy Choux and it's the same owners and colours so it's almost deja vu, hopefully."
Hastings owner/breeders Liz and Richard Wood, of Chouxmaani Investments, have named Miss Wilson after premier New Zealand shoe designer Kathryn Wilson.
Liz named champion Jimmy Choux (pronounced shoe) after Malaysian fashion guru Jimmy Choo, whose surname also is pronounced shoe.
Miss Wilson is sired by Stratum (Aust, 2002) out of the dam, Cierzo (NZ, 1999).
The mare, who goes by the stable name of former American supermodel and ex-Mrs Mick Jagger Jerry Hall because "she's very leggy", stepped up to group one after the four-win streak to finish fourth at the 1600m 1 Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes on a dead 5 track in Waikato on April 8 last season.
"It's her first time this season in a group one and probably on her way up."
If Riddell jockeys Miss Wilson into a good position, handy on the pace into the 375m straight of the anti-clockwise track, then Bary reckons the combination will be in a happy place.
"She's a big striding mare with a high cruising speed so I think if she's there or thereabouts she'll explode on a good track because she has a good turn of foot.
"If she hits the lead with 200 [metres] to go they'll have to try to run her down."
He would love nothing more than a firm track for Miss Wilson who has been training on that sort of surface daily.
"She's better on a good track because it accentuates her finish with a good kick so a good 3 track will be perfect."
Bary says the typical passing odd showers this week shouldn't trouble the mare much because the a wind-whipped spring tends to have little impact on the surface.
The track had a dead 4/good 3 rating yesterday after some irrigation in the morning.
Ask him what other horses are likely to feature, Bary picks out Volpe Veloce on a good track.
Matamata co-trainers Graham Richardson Gavin Parker's 4-year-old mare, sired by Foxwedge (Aust) out of Bardego (Aust), finished sixth here in the Tarzino Trophy with Johnathan Parkes in the saddle.
Aide Memoire also catches Bary's eye.
The 6-year-old mare comes under the tutelage of Fraser Auret, of Marton, and is sired out of Remind (US, 2000) out of Explain (NZ, 1991).
"I've got to respect Aide Memoire because she goes well on a good track," he says.
Jockey Marc Du Plessis rode Aide Memoire to runner-up Tarzino Trophy and she is nominated for the final leg of the spring carnival trilogy, the $250,000 group one Livamol Classic over 2040m on October 7.
Bary says it's also hard to go past multiple group one champion Kawi.
"He's got the runs on the board and has run six group ones," he says of the 7-year-old bay gelding, who is trained by Allan Sharrock of New Plymouth.
Bary says although Kawi and Jason Waddell blew the start of the Tarzino Trophy here to finish fourth to Close up the chances of that happening again were slim.