Blake Shinn wasn't sure about whether Summer Passage should go to Sydney for the tail end of The Championships, but co-trainer Lance O'Sullivan was, after the expensive colt won yesterday's $200,000 Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie.
"There is a good chance," said O'Sullivan, moments after looking downward as if to release pressure and declaring "That's a great result."
But then when you pay $800,000 for a colt what comes with it is pressure. Especially when the same owners, Highgrove Thoroughbreds Pty, had an attendance from Sydney 10 days ago only to watch their horse Cha Sui Bao come out of the barriers bucking and tailed the field.
"What a difference a week makes," said O'Sullivan.
Blake Shinn rode Summer Passage the only way possible given the first three races had been won by horses on the speed from the 500m.
He took him up from the first 30m and ended up in the middle of Ujjayyi on the rails and Felton Road three wide in front.
Summer Passage was always travelling better than the other pair and it was obvious he would take plenty of beating rounding the home bend. Shinn shot him clear and he held well enough to never be in danger from the solid-finishing runner up Star Treasure.
"We weren't going that fast and I let him get into a nice rhythm. He's determined and he's got a big engine." Shinn is one of Sydney's leading riders and like most of his colleagues he's relatively conservative when it comes to business. He made sure he didn't leave anyone out he was meant to thank.
Even down to rival jockey, Hong Kong-based Zac Purton, who would have ridden Summer Page had yesterday's race not been postponed from Saturday. The Hong Kong Jockey Club would not clear Purton to travel to New Zealand.
"I want to thank Lance and Andrew Scott and the whole stable team - they've done a great job of presenting this horse.
"Also I'd like to thank Lance's godson Andrew Williams, without whose help I would not have got this ride."Mike Dillon