Cape Kinaveral ended a quest that began 48 years ago for his Opotiki nonagenarian part-owner Jimmy Brown when he won the New Zealand Grand National Steeplechase at Riccarton on Saturday.
Cape Kinaveral gave the most successful New Zealand trainer, Graeme Rogerson, who is approaching 5000 wins worldwide, his first win in the race. He operates from Tuhikaramea, near Hamilton, where he trains thoroughbreds and standardbreds.
His latest venture is a stable in Sydney with Lee Freedman.
Rogerson first started a horse in the Grand National at Riccarton 20 years ago when Noble Heritage finished second to Lismore Lad.
He was an amateur rider who rode in steeplechases in the South Island while attending Lincoln College and also schooled over the Riccarton country.
Mr Brown raced Ringlock, who won the 1966 Waikato Steeplechase and two McGregor Grant Steeplechases at Ellerslie when trained at Cambridge by Jack Winder. Ringlock was unplaced in the 1964 National at Riccarton, won by John O'Groats.
The Ringlight gelding began racing as an 8-year-old and won a maiden flat race as an 11-year-old over 2200m at Avondale in 1966.
Mr Brown races Cape Kinaveral with Rogerson, Max Whitby of Sydney and the Just Right syndicate of Auckland.
An $85,000 purchase at the 2004 select yearling sale at Karaka, Cape Kinaveral has won 11 races for $272,000 in stakes. He won seven races and $126,000 on the flat before winning twice over hurdles. He ran second to Counter Punch as a maiden chaser in the National last year.
Rogerson is now viewing the Pakuranga Hunt Cup and Great Northern Steeple for the Cape Cross gelding.
Cape Kinaveral was being ridden for the first time on Saturday by Cody Singer, 21, who was having his second ride in a National Steeple. He parted company with his mount, Lizac, last year.
"My instructions were to try and get him to settle but that didn't happen and I just let him bowl to the front near the 1700m," Singer said.
Cape Kinaveral retained the lead to win by four lengths from a gutsy Logan James.
Favourite Roodyvoo looked to be travelling kindly with 600m and lodged his claim before the second-to-last fence. However, he peaked on his run once over the last and succumbed to Logan James.
Second favourite The Fox was beaten with 1000m to go, while other well-backed runners Penstar and Brushman never raised their supporters' hopes.
Singer, who recently shifted to Palmerston North, won a highweight on Secret Magic in March 2009 in his only other ride on a Rogerson-trained horse.
Singer, no relation of Jock Singer, who owned and trained the 1969 and 71 National Steeple winner, Robert Earl, won a Wellington Steeplechase last year on Brushman and the Waikato Hurdles this winter on Borrack.
Crystal Duke won the Christchurch Casino Winter Classic in sensational fashion for his second major win in a race sponsored by the company of his Queenstown owner, Barry Thomas, who is chairman of the casino.
"It is a real thrill. I haven't had an experience like this for years," Mr Thomas said. Crystal Duke reared as the field was dispatched from the starting gates and lost several lengths. He stormed home down the outer from last at the 600m to win decisively.
Crystal Duke is trained at Riccarton by Kevin and Pam Hughes, who had joined her husband in an official capacity as a trainer on August 1 and the Winter Classic was their first win as a duo.