Hastings-trained mare Penny Royal is fast becoming a Taupō track specialist.
The five-year-old daughter of Per Incanto has won three races from 11 starts and all three victories have been on the Taupō track.
She was having her fourth start on the course when bringing up her third success there last Sunday, leading all the way in a Rating 74 race over 1400m.
Penny Royal is officially trained by the partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen but spends much of her time down on the Porangahau beach property of Mary Darby.
The mare is a lot more settled in a smaller stabling environment and also thrives on being able to be worked on the beach.
She was having her first start back from a six month spell when she lined up at Taupō but had indicated she was ready for a bold fresh up performance by winning a 1000m Hastings jumpout on August 20.
Hastings apprentice Jordan Bassett was aboard Penny Royal last Sunday and claimed a 1.5kg allowance, bringing the weight the horse had to carry down to just 52.5kg.
Bassett bounced the mare out quickly from the number one draw and they were clear in the lead at the end of the first 200 metres.
From then on Bassett managed to dictate the pace to suit and Penny Royal still had plenty in reserve in the final stages, kicking clear to win by two lengths from Saignon, with a further gap of 1-3/4 lengths back to third-placed Sacrosanct.
For 29-year-old Bassett it was the sixth win of her career and her first for the new racing season. She originally started her apprenticeship attached to the Lowry/Cullen stable but is now indentured to her partner, Hastings owner-trainer Richard McKenzie.
Penny Royal was bred by Feilding farming couple Neil and Yvonne Managh and they race the mare in partnership with their son Andrew and daughter Geraldine.
Guy Lowry said that, due to a lack of suitable races for Penny Royal in the coming weeks, they have decided to back her up in a $30,000 Rating 72 race over 1300m at today's Hawke's Bay meeting.
"It's not ideal to back her up so quickly after racing last Sunday but there are just no other races around for a mare of her class in the next month," Lowry said.
Jordan Bassett has again been engaged for Penny Royal in today's race and the plan is to take her to the front from the start once again.
Public barred from Hastings races
Under the present Covid-19 alert level 2 restrictions Hawke's Bay Racing members and the general public will not be able to attend today's first day of the Bostock New Zealand Hawke's Bay spring carnival.
Only race day officials, trainers, owners and other specifically ticketed personnel will be allowed on the Hastings racecourse and those working in the birdcage area will be required to wear masks.
The fact that the meeting has to be run under level 2 restrictions is a massive blow to Hawke's Bay Racing who not only had a huge day of racing action planned but also had all the hospitality rooms on course fully pre-booked.
"It is quite gutting really," Hawke's Bay chief executive Darin Balcombe said.
"We are going to have to refund all the hospitality packages which is disappointing but we are also shattered for our members and some owners who also will not be able to attend to see what really is an exciting and action-packed day of racing."
The first day of the Hawke's Bay spring carnival is also the traditional Daffodil Raceday with any proceeds from gate takings donated to the Hawke's Bay Cancer Society.
By-monthly award winner
Hawke's Bay agricultural contractor Mark Apatu is the recipient of the by-monthly Hawke's Bay Racehorse Owners Association's Kevin Wood Memorial Trophy.
Apatu is a part-owner of the talented galloper Scorpz, who had 10 starts last season for three wins, a second and three thirds.
The Charm Spirit gelding, trained at Cambridge by Stephen Marsh, included the Group 3 $70,000 Wellington Stakes (1600m) among his victories and was also placed in both the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) and Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2000m).
The horse was taken to Australia in March of this year but unfortunately broke down when finishing last while making his Sydney debut in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and was retired from racing.
Catalyst primed for return
Te Awamutu trainer Clayton Chipperfield is getting used to training his stable star Catalyst remotely.
Last season's Group 2 Hawke's Bay Guineas winner is in Sydney preparing for a fresh up run in today's Group 2 $500,000 The Shorts Sprint (1100m) at Randwick, while his trainer is stranded in New Zealand due to Covid-19 restrictions.
It will be the first time the Kiwi four-year-old has been seen on the racetrack since his sixth placing in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in February, with that campaign ending abruptly when heat was detected in the gelding's joints.
"It will be great to see him back out there again and to try and improve on his last run in Australia," Chipperfield said.
Jockey Glen Boss partnered Catalyst in a gallop on the Randwick course proper on Tuesday morning and gave Chipperfield the tick of approval ahead of today's race.
Chipperfield is hoping the son of Darci Brahma will put his hand up for a slot in the $A15million The Everest (1200m) but is mindful there are other lucrative races in Sydney, including the $A7.5million Golden Eagle (1500m) which is restricted to four-year-olds.
Sharrock chasing fourth success
New Plymouth trainer Allan Sharrock had a golden run in the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) a few years ago, winning three on-end, and he is hoping he can add a fourth to his mantlepiece after today.
Sharrock's first victory in the race came in 2014 with I Do and he followed that win back-to-back victories with Kawi in 2015 and 2016.
He will contest today's weight-for-age feature with pocket rocket Tavi Mac who, while small in stature, has proved to have an iron willpower which was evidenced by his brave runner-up performance behind Avantage in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa earlier this month.
Tavi Mac's diminutive stature is in stark contrast to Sharrock's dual-race winner Kawi, but he believes the little gelding's determined character far exceeds his stable predecessor.
"Kawi was a beast," Sharrock said. "He was 16.2 hands and half a tonne. This horse is 14.3 with a sway back and probably only 450kg.
"You wouldn't have bought him out of the paddock, and he would still be in the paddock now if I didn't breed him for his owners.
"You wouldn't have tried him. But he defies science, it is his character and will to win that makes him the horse he is."
Tavi Mac has drawn out at barrier 11 for today's classic race and will have another change of jockey, with Troy Harris taking the mount.
Sharrock's stable apprentice Hazel Schofer has ridden the horse in four of his seven wins while Michael McNab was aboard for his last start second in the Foxbridge Plate.
Dragon Leap is sidelined
New Zealand-trained four-year-old Dragon Leap has suffered a setback that will curtail his Sydney spring campaign.
The Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott-trained gelding had looked in for a good campaign, having found the line well for eighth in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m), beaten just two lengths, and was on target for the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m).
"It's a minor injury and certainly nothing of any note that is going to have any long-term effect on his racing career," O'Sullivan said.
"It is a case of six weeks rest and he will be as good as gold."
The Hong Kong-owned galloper will recuperate initially in Australia but will return to the O'Sullivan-Scott stable Matamata.