The win by Hastings-trained Deb at Rotorua on Wednesday of last week was a timely result for her Taupo-based owner-breeder Pat Lowry.

The 4-year-old mare is by Darci Brahma out of the Pins mare Stepping Out and Lowry will offer a half-sister to the mare, by Charm Spirit, at next month's Karaka yearling sales.

Deb is a 4-year-old trained at Hastings by Lowry's son Guy, in partnership with Grant Cullen. She was having only her fifth race start, with her previous best placing being a second over 1200m at Hastings 12 months ago.

She did indicate a win was not far away when winning a 1000m jumpout at Hastings at the end of October and followed that up with a fair effort for seventh when resuming over 1200m at Hastings on November 12.

Jockey Masa Tanaka settled the mare back past midfield in the early stages of her 1215m race at Rotorua last week before gradually improving his position coming to the home turn. After ranging up to the leaders early in the straight Deb shot to the front and fought off a determined challenge from second placegetter Nutee to score by a head, at odds of nine to one.

Guy Lowry said this week that Deb has come through that race well and will probably start next in a Rating 65 race over 1200m at Awapuni tomorrow week.

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Deb is the third foal produced by Stepping Out, a mare that recorded one win and six minor placings from 20 starts for the Lowry/Cullen stable. The mare is now due to foal again to Shamexpress.

Scandalo proving worth
Scandalo is fast proving to be a bargain buy for his Hastings owner-trainer Patrick Campbell.

The Shocking 5-year-old brought up his fourth win, and his third from his last four starts, when taking out a $25,000 Rating 75 race over 1200m at Otaki last Friday. He now has a record of four wins, two seconds and two thirds from only 15 starts and has won $61,000 in stakemoney since joining the Campbell stable.

Scandalo began his racing career in the South Island and was bought privately by Campbell after his first seven starts had produced two thirds and three fourths.

The horse won first up from his new base, over 1450m at Wairoa, in February before a second success over 1200m at Hastings two months later. He then brought up win number three with an impressive fresh up victory over 1215m at Rotorua on October 21 and followed that up with a close second over 1400m at Awapuni last month.

Top South Island jockey Chris Johnson has ridden Scandalo in three of his wins and was aboard the horse last Friday. The horse was travelling keenly when midfield and one-off the fence in the middle stages but Johnson managed to get him to settle before asking him to improve just before the home turn.

Once in the straight Johnson angled the horse to the centre of the track and they fought out a tight finish with Rock My Soul and apprentice Sam Weatherley before getting the decision by a neck.

Campbell is happy with the way Scandalo has progressed since that win and will back him up in a $30,000 Rating 85 race over 1400m at Trentham tomorrow.

Scandalo is out of the Savabeel mare Grandissima, who was the winner of two races and is a half-sister to the Avondale Cup winner The Mighty Lions. It is the family of the Australian Group 1 winners Press Statement and Pressday.

A colt by Shamexpress out of Grandissima sold for $37,500 at last month's Ready To Run 2-year-old sale at Karaka.

Hollypop's overdue success
Patience was rewarded for the connections of Hollypop when the 6-year-old finally broke through for a maiden win over 2040m at Wanganui last Saturday.

The Minstrel Court mare was having her 26th start, with her previous best placings being six seconds and three thirds.

Hawke's Bay's Lindsay McIntosh is a member of the Hollypop Syndicate that races the mare on lease and he, along with some of the other shareholders, was starting to lose hope of her ever winning a race.

"The lease on her goes until the end of December and I was quite keen to finish with her a while back," admitted McIntosh.

"But Evan Rayner, who trains the horse with his daughter J J, convinced us to stay in and said he couldn't get her any fitter than she is now."

Hollypop certainly showed that fitness last Saturday. Jockey Chris Johnson settled her at the back of the 12-horse field in the early stages and then sent her on a quick forward movement around the field coming to the home turn.

Hollypop ranged up wide out to take the lead early in the home straight but it then took all of Johnson's expertise in the final stages to stave off a fast finishing burst from Dal Kilchoan to win by a nose.

Hollypop has obviously come through last Saturday's win in good order as the Rayners intend backing the mare up in a $30,000 Special Conditions 1600 at Trentham tomorrow.

She will be dropping back in distance, 1600m on the big Trentham track is like 2000m at other venues.

Cup hat-trick to Survived
Hawke's Bay-bred and former New Zealand Group 1 winner Survived has the full admiration of his Ballarat trainer Archie Alexander.

The son of Zed, who isn't the easiest horse to manage, produced another gritty display to win his third consecutive Mt Gambier Cup (2400m) in Australia last Monday.

"To win three cups three years in a row is unbelievable because he is a very tricky horse," Alexander said.

"He's actually a nightmare to train. He picks and chooses what day he is going to show up, but there's something in the air here. He always turns up. I may have others better than him, but I don't have any tougher than him."

Survived won seven races in New Zealand, including the Group 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) in 2013 for trainer John Bary. He was bred by veteran Hawke's Bay thoroughbred owner Don Gordon, who raced him before he was sold to stable clients of Alexander.

HB races next week
Hawke's Bay Racing will stage a twilight "Christmas at the Races" meeting at the Hastings racecourse next Thursday, December 14.

An eight-race programme is planned, with the first timed to start at 3.07pm and the last at 7.15pm.

The main race will be an $11,000 Rating 75 event over 1200m.

There will be a $10 gate charge.

Ellerslie likely for Hiflyer
Trainer Peter Lock has narrowed down his options for his star galloper Hiflyer, with the favoured path being a trip to Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

"Although nothing is set in concrete just yet, at this stage I'm leaning toward the Zabeel Classic. I think he'll get the 2000m," the Te Aroha-based trainer said.

"There's also the Rich Hill Mile, but he's not a big, gross horse and I think that he would get too much weight. He's rated 103 now and he would get 59 or 60kg."

A start in the Cambridge Stud-sponsored Ellerslie Group 1 feature would also fit in well with a following run in the Group 1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 20.

"We could freshen him. The Thorndon is set weights and penalties and it's been a goal for a long, long time but if we were lucky enough to win the Zabeel then that could change," Lock said.

Defence for Start Wondering
Start Wondering won't race again before the defence of his Group 1 Sistema Railway title at Ellerslie on New Year's Day.

"He'll possibly have a trial or a gallop between races somewhere, it's worked for us before," said Evan Rayner, who trains the champion sprinter at Whanganui with his daughter J J.

The 7-year-old was a gallant second when resuming in last week's Listed Levin Stakes (1200m) at Otaki where he conceded the winner Chambord 7.5kg.

"He always goes well on the fresh side," Rayner said. "After Ellerslie, he'll go to Trentham for the Telegraph."

Plumptre Cambridge Stud boss
Vastly experienced thoroughbred identity Henry Plumptre is to play a leading hand in the future of powerhouse New Zealand nursery Cambridge Stud.

He will assume the role as the farm's chief executive when new owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay take control in April of next year from Sir Patrick and Justine, Lady Hogan.

In a coup for the New Zealand industry, Plumptre boasts a distinguished global career spanning three continents and over 40 years' experience in bloodstock, stud farms and racing operations.

"Henry Plumptre has overseen some exceptional achievements during his career," Brendan Lindsay said.

"He has built world-class brands and brings vast international experience to this new role. Jo and I are delighted that he has agreed to be a key component of the new Cambridge Stud team next year.

"We are very proud to confirm that Marcus Corban, who has played such an important role in the success of Cambridge Stud, will be remaining in his current role as general manager."