The stage was small but it was always going to be difficult to go past the apprentice jockey versus group one champion from Australia on a sizzling New Year's Day meeting in Hastings yesterday.
In the blue corner was Katelyn Mallyon, of Melbourne, and in the red was Holly Andrew, of Central Districts, before the eight-race meeting started a minute after 1pm.
When the dust settled, the 27-year-old rider from Palmerston North had claimed three gongs and Mallyon one although the purists will argue Hawke's Bay trainers John Bary, Patrick Campbell and the combination of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen were the grinners with five winners between them.
"Definitely, us Kiwis can do just the same as they can," said Andrew with a grin. "I've had a very good day. I rode some very nice horses today from different trainers and I've had some good results."
She drew first blood in race two on Bary's Quick Choice but Mallyon countered in race three on Lowry/Cullen's Savvy Dreams.
Andrew said she had done her homework and knew Mallyon and Wide Awake were the combination to watch in race six although every horse she rode she took in her stride as it came.
"I knew I had a better horse underneath me travelling so I was quite confident with her," she said after guiding Campbell's Lady Guinness to surge to a 1.5-length victory over the pair in the rating 75 Kahungunu Kapa 1600m race 6 to nudge 2-1 ahead in the battle of jockeys.
Andrew revealed she and Campbell had hatched two plans for the 4-year-old Falkirk mare but "luckily enough" didn't have to resort to plan B.
Her third victory came in race seven when, again, she rode Bary's Swiss Precision a length ahead of Mallyon and Wandering Eye to the finish line.
Andrew said she could have been wherever she probably wanted to be in the country yesterday but the comfort of a CD venue was a no brainer.
"I'm happy with my trainer Mr [Kevin] Gray who I'm doing my apprenticeship with because I get a lot of opportunities," she said, lapping up the support of her family.
Her upper torso depicts blood-infused ink images so what's the tattoos about?
"I'm probably not what your typical jockey would look like but I don't fit into any criteria because I am who I am," she said before adding her tattoos personified a sense of durability.
"I'm exactly two years away from being qualified," she said, embracing the virtues of patience to run through the gauntlet rather than taking any shortcuts to enter the rigid but rewarding realm of jockeys.
A former equestrian, who as a youngster did her fair share of show ponies, Andrew followed in the family footprints.
"Both my uncles and grandfather were flat jockeys and then ended up riding in the jumps when they got a little heavy so it was sort of in the blood, really."
She thoroughly enjoyed the equine pursuits but smartly came to the realisation she couldn't eke out a living from it but "the second option" of becoming a jockey was working out so far. Her goal is to simply keep riding winners for as long as she can.
Mallyon described her day as "awesome".
"It's great to get a winner and come down to experience New Zealand racing for the first time," she said although she felt a couple of her mounts struggled a little on the good three track.
The 23-year-old said the Victorian tracks weren't too different but she might have won a couple more had the track been more agreeable.
Mallyon, who is based in Cambridge with partner and Kiwi jockey James McDonald during her visit, will return to Melbourne this week.
"Hopefully I can return and ride again in Hawke's Bay or anywhere else in New Zealand."
A smiling Mallyon said she wasn't too concerned about a points system in Hastings yesterday because she was traditionally preoccupied with her mounts to worry about the performances of others.
"It's obvious the girls get a good go down here and, hopefully, I can come back to ride more winners here."
Bary said Andrew had enjoyed another great ride on Swiss Precision.
"I told her I didn't want her to lead and to sit in behind to relax the horse so it's two in a row now and we'll probably head for the Desert Gold now in Wellington, like we said," he said of the group three race.
Hastings co-trainers Sue Thompson and Mick Brown had delayed the start of the Jimmy Rural 1400m race seven after their 4-year-old mare, Kaipawe, threw jockey Lynsey Satherly off her perch.
The Prince Conti mare looked agitated even before she was led through the bird cage but despite Thompson and Brown's best efforts, to the delight of the bullish crowd, she wouldn't let the Te Awamutu jockey back on and was scratched.
It spoilt Satherly's promising day after she had clinched race four, the NZB Insurance Peral Series, on the Murray Baker/Andrew Forsman-trained Milseain. Unusual Achiever (apprentice Timothy Johnson) was 2.3 lengths in second place and Bary's Thelma (Andrew) was third.
Campbell said while the field was small there were a couple of horses with big reputations lining up against Lady Guinness and Andrew.
"She's a pretty experienced apprentice and she can claim two kilos so that's usually a big help," she said of the jockey before adding the mare would probably head for a Wellington meeting but ruling out the one on January 10 and the carnival.
"It could well be the last day because she needs a little bit of time between races," said the trainer who prefers fewer horses since returning from overseas.
A race earlier, Darryl Bradley rode Campbell-trained Scandalo to victory in the Russell Roads City of Hastings Cup over 1600m with a 1.75 lengths ahead of Morse Code (Johnson) and Petite En Jeu (apprentice Madan Singh) but Johnson and his 5-year-old Pins mare were relegated to third in the three-way battle for crossing Singh's path.
"We'll take him [Scandalo] back to the paddocks and see what happens," Campbell said of his 5-year-old Shocking gelding.
The much-anticipated match-up with Te Akau Shark (Mallyon) didn't eventuate after Matamata co-trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards withdrew their champion gelding.
Reflecting on Quick Choice, Bary said Andrew's ride was the difference as she oozed confidence.
"Holly rode it beautifully — one at, one back, as we call it — and she had a lovely kick in the end so it's great for the syndicate who own it," he said of the multiple syndicate-owned Darci Brahma filly.
Bary intended to give Quick Choice a spell but was mindful she was a nice horse and needed a bit of time.
The Lisa Latta-trained Eva Dawn (Singh) came 1.3 lengths in second place with Lowry/Cullen's Silhouette Beauty (Reese Jones) in third place.
Tony Allan rode the Lowry/Cullen-trained Pakapunch 1.5 lengths behind Savvy Dreams into second place with Don'tblamethemusic (apprentice Tegan Newman) third for co-trainers Autridge/Richards.