John Gray is showing no signs of slowing up and the sprightly veteran provided his rider with a victory to savour at Ellerslie on yesterday.
The rising 12-year-old opened his account for the winter with success in the Bidvest 1600 under Samantha Collett, who pipped her mother Trudy Thornton aboard Celebrity Miss in a driving finish.
"It's not often I can outride Mum " I threw everything at the horse," she said.
Trained by Antony Fuller at Tauranga, John Gray was having his third run back from a spell and, after a less than encouraging start to the campaign, he started at odds of 40-1.
John Gray settled in behind the leaders before Collett let him slide forward and challenge soon after straightening.
"He started pulling at the 1000 and he's stronger than me so I let him go," she said.
John Gray was bravest under pressure in the run to the post to keep the Group One performer Celebrity Miss at bay by a short head with a nose back to Seconds Out.
"I thought he had stuck his big head out in time," Collett said.