Apprentice rider Rebecca Goldsbury enjoyed a successful day in the saddle at New Plymouth yesterday when she chalked up a winning double.
After guiding the locally trained Rosewood home earlier in the day, Goldsbury produced a heady display to land the well favoured Opaki galloper Blathwayt a narrow but well-deserved victory in the feature event, the Energy City Ford Open over 1800m.
The Central Districts apprentice allowed the seven-year-old grey plenty of time to find his feet as she settled him at the rear of the seven-horse field in the early stages of the contest as pacemaker Overtheriver set a hectic speed out in front. Blathwayt relaxed nicely and began to loom as an ominous threat as he set out after Bella's Delight, who had shot to a handy two length break as heads turned for home.
Goldsbury didn't panic as she angled for a run outside Bella's Delight although things became a little dicey as the leader began to drift alarmingly to the centre of the track while battling the gusty head wind that prevailed on the day.
Despite being forced over more ground Blathwayt dug deep to lift at the line and push his head in front of Bella's Delight and score his eighth career victory and first since October 2015.
Trainer Alby MacGregor admitted he had never lost faith in his charge despite enduring plenty of frustrations since his last win.
"He's always been a good horse and a real trier but we've had our problems with him," he admitted.
"His last win before today was the Feilding Gold Cup then we took him to Riccarton for the New Zealand Cup but he hurt himself when he was down there.
"We just couldn't get him right and I tried everything, including the chiropractor, but he was always going sore in behind.
"My good friend Harvey Wilson suggested to forget those treatments and get him out on the hills for some work there and he has been a different horse since."
MacGregor admitted he was nervous about his winning chances after such a lengthy drought but his confidence was buoyed after the gelding produced a sparkling workout on Thursday.
"His work on Thursday morning was terrific so I had nervous confidence for today," he said.
"Rebecca rode him beautifully and it was such a relief to see him finally get another win. Rebecca is a lovely girl and seems to have a real affinity with the horse as she has only ridden him three times and won on him twice."
Meanwhile durable galloper Close Up continued the winning roll of Cambridge conditioner Shelley Hale when he captured the feature sprint in his first start in a new campaign.
Veteran rider Grant Cooksley trekked south to take the mount on Close Up and produced a gem of a ride as he sat the seven-year-old Shinko King gelding in behind the speed before producing a well-timed run in the straight to score a comfortable one length victory in the Kiwi Butcher Open 1200.
- NZ Racing Desk