Trent Busuttin took a whole lot more than the trainer's commission from Sangster's return to winning form in the Darci Brahma International Stakes at Te Rapa yesterday.
Safe in the knowledge that he has a worthy Auckland Cup favourite in the son of Savabeel, he also finally felt vindicated that the four-year-old was back and ready to underline his 2011 VRC Derby form.
Yesterday's 2000-metre weight-for-age win was Sangster's first success since taking the Flemington classic more than 16 months ago. He had managed a single third placing in a late summer-autumn three-year-old campaign and after a long spell he returned to racing in mid-December before finishing second in his third run back, the Anniversary Handicap at Trentham a month ago.
Returning to a middle-distance and sent out favourite yesterday, Sangster overcame a wide early passage with an easy win under Opie Bosson.
As soon as he loomed up at the top of the straight he was the horse to beat and he surged clear to score by nearly three lengths from a brave Dolmabache ahead of Asavant, who came with a brilliant late run through tight quarters.
The disappointment was Lady Kipling, fading badly to beat only three rivals and later reported to have pulled up scratchy.
"They all go on about VRC Derby horses not coming back but I don't believe any of that," said Busuttin, who trains Sangster in partnership with his fiance Natalie Young. "Efficient, Octagonal, Tie The Knot, Diatribe, Lion Tamer - they've all come back afterwards and this horse is no different.
"He's taken time to mature fully and last autumn he just wasn't letting down on those firm tracks. Before his last start at Trentham I said there was another big win coming and my only worry today was the firm track."
KAREN PARSONS went back to basics when describing what makes Final Touch tick after her pride and joy had claimed her third group one victory of the season in yesterday's Waikato Draught Sprint at Te Rapa.
"She's just so laid-back, she saves it all for raceday," said the North Cantabrian who bred, owns and co-trains the plain bay mare with her husband John. "Whether we gallop her with our sackers or our fastest horse she's just the same, she just does what she has to."
Yesterday's weight-for-age 1400-metre contest was a near replica of last month's Telegraph Handicap at Trentham, when Final Touch downed Xanadu by half a length. Once again both mares got well out their ground early before Xanadu angled wide to make her run down the outside while Final Touch sat and waited for the gaps to appear.
Neither was in the picture with 200 metres to run, but soon after Final Touch, under regular rider Chris Johnson, got the space she needed and dived through to hit the lead and add the big Te Rapa sprint to her 1200-metre Telegraph win and her 1600-metre Captain Cook Stakes victory that had kicked off her Group One treble at Trentham in early December.
Xanadu was resolute, but by the time she was finally working into her stride, it was all too late, however, and she had to settle for yet another group one placing.