It has been a long time between celebratory drinks for Waipukurau thoroughbred owner-breeders Peter and Ann Evans but they were back in the winners' circle at Hastings on New Year's Day.
The couple bred and share in the ownership of Bold Iris, who capped off two good minor placings with a deserved maiden success in a 3-year-old maiden race over 1200m.
Peter Evans is the former manager of the Waipukurau Racecourse and he and his wife have bred and raced horses for many years.
"I've been in on some horses with Howard Jones from Gisborne and we've had a couple of wins but this is the first one Ann and I have bred and owned that has won for a long time," Evans said this week.
The best the Evans have had is My Astron, a horse that recorded six wins, nine seconds and six thirds and amassed more than $283,000 in stakemoney.
The My Halo gelding gave the couple their biggest moment in racing when he took out the 2009 running of the Group 2 $150,000 Japan Trophy (1600m) at Tauranga for the then Hastings-based trainer Kelly Burne.
The Evans have only raced the odd one or two horses since My Astron with their last win together being when Aribasan, the dam of Bold Iris, took out a maiden 1200m race at Woodville in October 2014.
About that same time they were also racing Sanriba, a horse that won five races including the Masterton Cup (1250m) at Tauherenikau in March 2014.
Bold Iris is trained at Hastings by John Bary and her home track success last week followed consecutive third placings on the same course, the first over 1300m on November 8 and the second over 1200m on December 9.
After beginning well from the barrier, Bold Iris was lost for early speed and got back to second last in the early stages.
Rider Leah Hemi started to urge her forward entering the last 600m and had her within striking distance of the leaders rounding the home turn.
The race favourite Sacred Command looked the likely winner when clear in the lead inside the last 300m but Bold Iris kept up a strong finish and wore that horse down close to the line to score by a short head.
The win also credited the sire The Bold One with his first winner.
He stands at Grangewilliam Stud in Wanganui and, although he was the winner of only four races from 14 starts, he is extremely well bred being by Fastnet Rock out of the multiple Group 1 winner The Jewel.
Peter and Ann Evans race Bold Iris in partnership with their Auckland-based son Royce and four other Hawke's Bay people, John Bateman, Lyn Bibby and the brothers Allan and Wayne Chittick.
Trainer John Bary said this week he likes to space the racing of Bold Iris and the filly is unlikely to race again until the third day of the Wellington Cup carnival on January 30.
"There is a $40,000 3-year-old race over 1200m that day which suits and it will be a chance to try her out against some of the better ones," Bary said.
Pablo Esk makes it two in a row
Hastings-trained Pablo Esk completed a winning double on his home track when taking out the $15,000 Roger Russell/Charlie Keenan Memorial, feature race at the Hawke's Bay New Year's Day meeting.
The 4-year-old Alamosa gelding had cleared maiden ranks with a strong win over 1400m there on December 9 and was just as impressive when outlasting four much better credentialed rivals in an open 1300m race last week.
Palmerston North apprentice jockey Faye Lazet jumped Pablo Esk out well from the barrier to take up a trailing position, third up against the inside rail.
She angled the horse into the clear at the top of the home straight and he surged between the two leaders to take a clear lead before staving off a late challenge from Motivation for a long neck win.
It was 22-year-old Lazet's second winning ride, her first coming aboard the Lisa Latta-trained Akela Belle at Awapuni on November 13.
Originally from the Netherlands, Lazet has been steadfast in her desire to become a jockey and has duly been rewarded after looking to the other side of the world to pursue her career.
Despite not being from a racing background, Lazet has been blinkered in her wish to become a jockey.
"I was in my last year of school and trying to find something to do with horses or animals in general and after looking for quite a while I came across the British Racing School website and I said to my mum and dad, 'this is what I want to do'.
"I moved to England when I was 18 and did a two-month course with the British Racing School before being placed with trainers.
An 18-month stint with Lambourn trainer Charles Hills ensued, before working for smaller trainer Roger Teal.
But when it became apparent opportunities were going to be limited in the UK, Lazet looked further afield.
"I heard that either Australia or New Zealand was a good place to be, so I came to New Zealand and rode as an amateur for Ken Duncan for eight months.
"I loved it. I was race riding within two months, which was just unbelievable. In England, it would have taken me years and years.
"It is so much easier and everyone is very supportive."
After going home for a break for three months, Lazet returned to New Zealand a year ago and is now apprenticed to Awapuni trainer Mike Breslin.
A natural lightweight, Lazet walks around at 49kg and is a good addition to the New Zealand riding ranks, especially as she is still able to claim a 4kg allowance.
Pablo Esk is officially trained at Hastings by Mike Warren, who races the horse in partnership with good friend Terry McGarva. The two are workmates at a local freezing works.
The horse was purchased privately from Manawatu vet John O'Brien, who bred him out of the Gold Centre mare Waiana Gold.
He is the second horse to race out of Waiana Gold, the other being Triple who was sold to Hong Kong after winning a Foxton trial in December 2017 and has since gone on to record a win and seven minor placings in that continent.
Pablo Esk is likely to have his next start in a Rating 75 race over 1400m at the Hawke's Bay meeting, on January 28.
Another Group 1 success for Ormsby
Waipukurau racehorse owner Michael Ormsby celebrated another Group 1 victory last weekend and will have several more chances in black type races over the next month.
Ormsby is a member of the Te Akau Avantage Syndicate that races the outstanding mare Avantage, impressive winner of the Group 1 $200,000 Sistema Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day.
It was the Fastnet Rock mare's fourth Group 1 success following last season's victories in the Telegraph Sprint (1200m) at Trentham, Haunui Farm Weight-for-age Classic (1600m) at Otaki and Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie.
The 5-year-old has recorded 12 wins from 24 starts and her stake earnings now exceed $1.6 million.
Aided by a 10 out of 10 by jockey Opie Bosson, Avantage got up to beat the pacemaking Julius by a neck in last Friday's Ellerslie feature, with race-favourite Levante coming from last on the home turn to be only three-quarters of a length back in third.
Avantage will head back to Trentham on January 16 to defend her title in the Group 1 $250,000 JR & N Berkett Telegraph and she has already been installed a red-hot $1.70 favourite on the fixed-odds win market for that race.
Ormsby is involved in several of the Te Akau racing syndicates and has shared in four other wins in recent weeks, with Campionessa (two), Entriviere and Radegast.
Campionessa was a debut maiden winner over 1215m at Rotorua at the beginning of December and followed that up with another dominant victory in a Rating 65 race over 1400m at Matamata on December 23.
The 3-year-old Contributor filly is now likely to be aimed at the Group 3 $70,000 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on January 30.
Exciting mare Entriviere picked up her third win from just four starts when taking out a $50,000 Rating 74 race over 1200m at Ellerslie on Boxing Day and is expected to return there on January 23 for the Group 3 $70,000 Concorde Handicap (1200m).
Radegast cleared maiden ranks with a decisive win over 1400m at Pukekohe on December 16 and then battled in the heavy track conditions when fifth in a Rating 65 race over 1600m at Te Aroha last Sunday.
Ormsby is also a member of the Te Akau Perfection Syndicate that races Perfect Scenario, a 3-year-old Iffraaj gelding who recorded two wins in a row earlier this season and was a good last start fourth in the Group 3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie on December 5.
He may now contest the $1million Karaka Million Three-year-old Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 23.
Bosson to appeal suspension
Champion jockey Opie Bosson is appealing a suspension which has robbed him of two leading Group 1 rides and a chance of winning a fifth straight $1m Karaka Million 2YO.
Bosson was suspended on careless riding charges stemming from his rides on third-placed Sword Of State in the Group 2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) and on the unplaced Illusion Of Paris in the Group 2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on January 1.
His suspension began after racing on January 4 and ends after racing on January 28.
Bosson's agent Aidan Rodley said the jockey was appealing the penalty only.
"Opie was satisfied he received an entirely fair hearing on both charges but we feel the suspension, which rules him out of four big-money weekend meetings is too harsh," Rodley said.
No date for the appeal has yet been set.