Hastings trainer Fred Pratt celebrated his first black-type success when outsider Magic Incanto led her rivals a merry chase in the Group 3 $80,000 Wyndspelle @Grangewilliam Taranaki Breeders Stakes (1400m) at Hawera last Saturday.
Pratt, 63, said this week he had recorded minor placings in black-type races in the past and it was a great thrill to finally claim first prize in one.
"I thought I had the mare right for the race because her work had been right up with the best she has done but you never know until the day," a happy Pratt said.
Sharing in the celebrations was little-known jockey Mareana Hudson. The 36-year-old was also posting her first stakes success after she went agonisingly close to tearing off the Group 3 Wellington Cup (3200m) last January, when narrowly beaten aboard rank outsider Bluey's Chance.
Magic Incanto rocked punters by scoring at odds of 28 to one in the 1400m fillies and mares feature to bring up her sixth win from 34 starts.
Hudson, who was recording her second win on the mare, bounced her out brilliantly from the barrier and quickly established a break on the field. She increased the margin just before the home turn and Magic Incanto revelled in the heavy track conditions, maintaining a strong run to the line to beat Raced Evens by 1-1/4 lengths, with fellow Hastings-trained mare Mohaka finishing strongly from the back to be a neck away in third.
Magic Incanto was showing a complete form reversal after beating only four horses home at her previous start, over 1400m at Hastings on September 18.
The stipendiary stewards questioned Pratt over the horse's sudden turnaround in form and he said the addition of a shadow roll to the mare's gear and the fact that she was ridden more positively from the start helped her to return to her best.
Pratt is a former successful jumps jockey who has dabbled at training for many years. He was initially based in Woodville before crossing the Tasman, where he spent 17 years riding and working as foreman for the late Jim Marconi in Victoria.
He decided to return to New Zealand a decade ago, first spending time assisting Levin trainer Peter McKenzie, before shifting to Hastings.
He only had three horses in work when he first arrived in Hawke's Bay and supplemented his income with employment at the local freezing works. However, he is now starting to build a nice team around him with Magic Incanto the obvious stable star.
It was fitting that Magic Incanto was the horse to give Pratt his first stakes win as she has been the mainstay of his stable and has brought him a mixture of highs and lows in recent years.
The now nine-year-old has had no end of injury problems, which is why she lightly raced. She bares a huge scar on her offside hind leg, the result of her going through a fence as a young horse which side-lined her for almost two years. She also had to be late-scratched from a Waipukurau meeting one day when she injured herself during the float trip from Hastings to the races.
She was then troubled by a muscle tying-up problem and, just as Pratt got on top of that, she suddenly lashed out with her hind legs one day and caught one of them in a fence, opening up an old leg injury.
Pratt has contemplated retiring Magic Incanto to the broodmare paddock several times but her connections have been keen to carry on racing her.
Magic Incanto was bred by Woodville butcher John Shannon and Wellington's John Fokerd and is raced by Shannon's wife, along with several other butchers' wives from around the central districts, and some other family friends.
Pratt said Magic Incanto has come through last Saturday's win so well that he is now looking to back her up on her home track today in the Group 3 $80,000 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) on the final day of the Bostock New Zealand Spring carnival.
"She hasn't left an oat since the win and has gradually improved all the way through this time in.
"Usually she gets a bit wound-up after she races but I took her to the beach on Monday and she was a lot more settled."
Double success for Waipukurau
Waipukurau owner-trainer Lucy de Lautour pulled off a rare quinella when she produced Metallo and Ian's Legacy to fill the first two placings in a 2100m maiden race at Awapuni on Thursday of last week.
Ian's Legacy, the better supported of the pair, tried to lead all the way but stablemate Metallo moved up to challenge on the home turn and the two horses then slugged it out over the final stages, with a length separating them at the line.
De Lautour races the pair with her husband Will and they are members of a small team of horses she prepares on their Central Hawke's Bay farm.
Metallo is a five-year-old gelding by Zoffany out of the unraced Zabeel mare Buymore and was initially bought as a yearling for $25,000 at the 2018 Karaka sales by Wanganui trainer Fraser Auret. He gave the gelding one start for an eighth over 2000m at Hastings in July last year and he has since had five starts for de Lautour, with last week's win preceded by a fifth over 2040m at Wanganui last month.
Ian's Legacy started out in the Matamata stable of Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard before changing hands last year and has recorded a second, a third and a fourth from his last three starts for de Lautour.
Another Waipukurau-trained galloper, Hesacitiboy, also broke through for a maiden win at last week's Manawatu meeting.
The five-year-old gelding disputed the early pace in a 1550m race before taking a clear lead starting the last 700m and raced clear in the straight to score by 2-3/4 lengths.
Hesacitiboy is owned and trained by the husband and wife team of Penny and Tony Ebbett. He is by Citi Habit out of the Shinko King mare Andalou, who was the winner of one race for the couple.
Wewillrock fulfils his early promise
Patience was rewarded when Hastings-trained Wewillrock scored a decisive maiden win over 1100m at Taupo on Wednesday of last week.
The three-year-old son of El Roca was having only his second start and his first since he finished fourth in a 1000m two-year-old race at Tauherenikau last February.
Wewillrock is a member of the Lowry/Cullen stable, and co-trainer Guy Lowry this week said the gelding has always shown good potential but he is a big horse that has been a slow maturer, both physically and mentally.
"He has had a few jumpouts since his first start and has been a bit wayward at times and so we put blinkers on him at Taupo last week and that made all the difference," Lowry said.
Wewillrock's winning performance certainly suggested he should go on to much better things in the future. He was forced to cover plenty of extra ground after jumping from the extreme outside barrier, yet still proved too good for his rivals.
Jockey Lisa Allpress settled the horse eighth in the early running before sending him forward starting the last 600m. The big chestnut zoomed around the field four-wide to challenge the leaders on the home turn and then accelerated clear to win by 2-1/4 lengths.
Guy Lowry purchased Wewillrock for $35,000 at the 2020 Karaka yearling sales and the horse is now raced by Hawke's Bay brothers Mark and Paul Apatu in partnership with Mark Chittick of Waikato Stud.
He is out of the Strategic mare Princess Michella, who recorded two wins and five minor placings from only 11 starts.
Lowry is unsure where Wewillrock will start next but there is a strong chance he could contest a Rating 65 race over 1200m at Woodville next Friday.
Four on end for Trosettee
Trosettee, a horse raced by several Hawke's Bay people, continued on his winning way with another dominant victory in last Saturday's $45,000 Egmont Cup (2100m) at Hawera.
Ridden by apprentice Faye Lazet, the Jimmy Choux five-year-old settled midfield in the early stages before taking off at the 600m to challenge for the lead. He went clear soon after and kept up a strong run to the line to win by 1-1/4 lengths.
It was his fourth win in a row and his fifth from only 12 starts.
Trosettee is owned by his Masterton trainer Grant Nicholson, who paid only $5000 to purchase him at the 2018 Karaka yearling sales.
Nicholson now races the horse with Hastings couple John and Greta Flynn, along with their daughter Sam, Faye Flynn, John and Sharon McKay and Derek and Ann Mackenzie.
Trosettee is bred to excel as a stayer as his sire Jimmy Choux won five Group 1 races including the New Zealand Derby (2400m), while his dam Tin Goose finished third in the 2010 Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m).