Hayley Curran, who began riding over jumps 14 months ago, landed the $60,000 New Zealand Grand National Hurdles at Riccarton yesterday with a well-judged front-running ride on Wotabuzz.
For Curran, 21, it was her 28th ride over jumps and her seventh win. She had won a 0-1w steeplechase earlier in the day on Upper Cut after her mount How True fell at the second-to-last fence in the maiden hurdle.
Curran had one flat ride as an amateur in 2010 before she was licensed as a jumps rider in May last year. She rode her first jumps winner, Electriclite, in a steeplechase at Awapuni in August 2011.
She is the sixth female jockey to win a National Hurdles, joining Leanne Elliot (Charlie Boy, 1992), Tina Egan (Ragamuffin Rose, 1994), Megan Prendergast (Arch Rival, 1999), Rochelle Lockett ( Lucky Tip, 2002, and Cool Water, 2003) and Michelle Hopkins (Just A Swagger, 2004).
Mark Oulaghan, the Awapuni trainer of Wotabuzz, has also won the National Hurdles with Rand (2000), Yourtheman (2006) and Counter Punch (2007).
Wotabuzz was having his seventh start over hurdles. He won his first hurdles start in June last year at Te Rapa. He has won four and been three times placed.
The 8-year-old His Royal Highness-Burnish gelding won five races on the flat, the first as a 3-year-old when trained by Lisa Latta, who provided the runner up, Waitaha Toa, in the National yesterday.
Oulaghan bred Wotabuzz and his dam, Burnish, an unraced mare by Touching Wood from Refulgence.
Wotabuzz scored one of the easiest wins in the Grand National Hurdles, finishing 20 lengths clear of the favourite, Waitaha Toa, with 17 more lengths back to perennial placegetter Honey.
A further 34 lengths back, Limberlost headed home some rather tired horses, who would have slept particularly well after their slog through the Riccarton mud.
The 4200m journey took a strength-sapping 5:30.47.
- Otago Daily Times