Hawke's Bay thoroughbred owner-breeder Ken Browne had good reason to celebrate after his horse Raucous scored a dominant win in his steeplechase debut at Rotorua.
The Nom de Jeu gelding was a winner over hurdles at Te Aroha almost 12 months ago to the day and had no trouble making the transition to the bigger fences, scoring a four and three-quarter length win in the hands of in-form jumps jockey Shaun Phelan.
The victory last Sunday continued an amazing run, being enjoyed by the Hastings training partnership of Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal who also took out the open hurdle race at Rotorua on Sunday with Nedwin to take their tally of wins for the season to 19, nine of which have come since June 6.
Raucous was having his 19th start on Sunday and, in addition to his hurdle win a year ago, he had also recorded four seconds and two thirds.
Browne, who is a board member of Hawke's Bay Racing, made a special day trip up to Rotorua to watch Raucous compete and said it was a big thrill to see him cross the line in front.
"I wasn't at Te Aroha when he won over hurdles last year because I had a funeral to go to but I made the trip up and back to Rotorua last Sunday.
"It was a good win and it was great to see him settle so well in the race," Browne said.
"He used to rip and tear in his races but Paul always said once he got up over the bigger fences he would settle down.
"He was still hanging a bit but he's getting better all the time. Shaun Phelan said he was always travelling like a winner and was quite complimentary about the horse."
Phelan let Raucous stride to the front in the early stages of the 3500m event but then got taken on by Flyingwithoutwings and jockey Neil Downs. They went stride for stride in the middle stages.
Phelan kept his mount well away from the inside rail and urged him to the front again with 800m to run. From then on they were always in control and, after clearing the last two fences efficiently, Raucous raced away to beat the Kevin Myers-trained pair of Carnaby and Mandalay.
Browne has bred and raced horses for many years, with Raucous being the only one he is racing at the moment.
He bred the eight-year-old and races him in partnership with Nelson along with former trainer Jeanann Hercock and her sister Rose Sellwood. All four live in Hawke's Bay.
Raucous started out in the stable of Hercock's daughter Kate, who always knew the horse had ability but had trouble trying to get him to conserve all his nervous energy and settle down to be a racehorse.
"Kate told me one day he's got it there but his legs are going faster than his brain," Browne recalled.
It was Hercock's suggestion that the horse be transferred to the stable of Nelson and McDougal to be tried as a jumper, hoping that would help settle him down.
Browne, who is a stock agent, bred Raucous out of the Star Way mare Dizzie Limit after he bought her off the late Doug Ancell, a prominent owner-breeder in the north.
"I used to sell a lot of cattle to Doug and we became good friends," Browne said.
"He had a great breed that went back to Coverless and Limitless, and when he got sick and wanted to wind down he offered me the choice of a couple of mares. That is how I got Dizzie Limit."
Dizzie Limit, who is now deceased, never raced after suffering a tendon injury and has not been that successful as a broodmare either. Raucous was the last of six foals she produced, with King Dan and Kininmont being the only other winners out of the mare. They both each recorded a win and two seconds from limited racing careers.
Nelson predicted a big future for Nedwin as a jumper after he won a point-to-point jumping trial at Levin two months ago and the horse is certainly living up to his expectations.
The seven-year-old Niagara gelding won a maiden hurdle by one and three-quarter lengths over 2500m at Hastings on June 6 and followed that up with an eight and a quarter length demolition of his rivals in a 3000m open hurdle at Rotorua last Sunday.
The horse was sent out a hot favourite at $2.40 for a win and gave his supporters no reasons for concern in the running, with jockey Shaun Phelan taking him to the front early on then settling him into a trailing position.
Nedwin was clearly cruising when Phelan sent him forward to take a clear lead rounding the home turn and the gelding jumped the last two fences in grand style before racing away to win, easing down.
Nedwin, who has also won three races on the flat, is raced by Paul and Carol Nelson in partnership with the horse's previous Gisborne-based trainer Mick Gardner and his wife Sue.
The horse is out of the Don Eduardo mare Edwina and was bred by prominent Hawke's Bay breeder Tom Lowry.
He was originally prepared from the Hastings stable of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen and they are presently training a promising half-sister to him called Darwin, who is a filly by Darci Brahma.
Another success for de Lautour
Waipukurau trainer Lucy de Lautour has made a habit out of picking up horses on the cheap and turning them into winners. Metallo is the latest.
The five-year-old Zoffany gelding recorded his second success from nine starts for the talented horsewoman when he scored a game three-quarter length win in a Rating 65 race over 2100m at Otaki on Friday of last week.
De Lautour prepares a small team on the farm that she and her husband Will operate and have had their share of success in recent years. Kipkeino has been one of their best performers, with the Sunray gelding chalking up 10 wins including a Hawke's Bay Hurdles and he also finished second in a Wellington Steeplechase.
Metallo is 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 2020 before he was taken over by de Lautour.
She has adopted a patient policy with the horse, steadily building up his strength and that certainly showed through towards the finish of last week's Otaki race.
Rider Michael McNab settled Metallo midfield in the early running and then started to improve between horses from the 700m. The horse got up to third on the home turn and hit the front soon after.
Duck Road went with him in the straight and the two horses fought out the finish, with Metallo surging clear just short of the finish line.
The victory capped off a stellar day for the country's leading jockey Michael McNab as it was his fifth win from eight rides on the day. He now looks to have an unassailable lead over Lisa Allpress in the race for this season's New Zealand Jockeys' Premiership with just a month to run.
Weanling walk tomorrow
Six Hawke's Bay properties will be visited when the Hawke's Bay/Poverty Bay branch of New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders stages its annual weanling walk tomorrow.
There will be 31 weanlings on show as well as two Hawke's Bay-based thoroughbred stallions, Sneaking To Win and Mongolian Falcon.
The tour will start at Willow Tree Farm at 191 Matapiro Road at 9am and will conclude at Vicki Wilson's property at 87 Rochfort Road, Kahuranaki.
Verry Elleegant gearing up
Australasia's darling of the turf Verry Elleegant is edging closer to making her European debut.
Her new trainer Francis-Henri Graffard is eyeing the Group 1 Prix Rothschild (1600m) at Deauville at the start of next month to kick off her European career.
Part-owner Brae Sokolski said Graffard had confirmed Verry Elleegant was progressing well in her preparation following her first gallop on the grass training track at Chantilly last weekend.
"She's going great and she seems to be ahead of her programme after talking to Francis in terms of where her fitness is, which is great because that gives us flexibility to potentially resume sooner than we'd thought," Sokolski said.
"It's now a distinct possibility that she could run in the first week of August."
Verry Elleegant, a daughter of Grangewilliam Stud-based stallion Zed, was initially trained in New Zealand by Nick Bishara before she was partly sold to Australians. She went on to win 11 races at the elite level from the stable of champion trainer Chris Waller, including last year's Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).