The successful roll Hawke's Bay owned and trained horses have had since the start of the new year continued last weekend with four winners in the space of two days.
Cutadeel completed a winning hat-trick when successful in the last race at Pukekohe on Friday while on Saturday King Louis took out a $70,000 3-year-old race at Ellerslie and Hugo The Boss and Pep Torque were both victorious again at Trentham.
There have been no fewer than 14 winners with Hawke's Bay connections since New Year's Day.
King Louis bounced back to his best in no uncertain terms with a decisive neck win in the Group 3 Mongolian Trophy (1200m) at Ellerslie.
The Equiano gelding was having his 12th start with his one previous win coming in a maiden 1350m race at Waipukurau in October last year.
However he was good enough to finish third in the Group 2 Hawke's Bay Guineas (1400m) at Hastings in the spring.
The 3-year-old failed to see out a strong 1600m when ninth in the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas in November and went into last Saturday's race off a fourth placing over 1000m at Tauherenikau on January 2.
King Louis has normally run his races from the front but jockey Jason Waddell adopted different tactics on the horse at Ellerslie and it proved to be the winning of the race.
Waddell let the horse drop back to third last in the early stages from a wide barrier and bided his time until the home straight before picking a path through the field.
King Louis had to change ground a couple of times before Waddell angled him into the clear and he descended on the pacemaking favourite Sword Of Osman inside the last 100m, sweeping past him to win by a neck.
Cyber Attack also finished strongly from the back to dead-heat for second with the favourite.
Hastings trainer John Bary said the win reminded him of stable predecessor and five-time Group 1 winner Jimmy Choux, who carried the same colours for Hawke's Bay owners Richard and Liz Wood.
"That was exceptional, it was just like the old days with Jimmy's colours on," Bary said.
"I'm just stoked for Richard and Liz, they are not here tonight, their son Michael is though."
Bary said the change of tactics played a major part in the win.
"Speaking with Jason (before the race), he needs to take a bow," Bary said.
"We had spoken about the speed. The first option was to do what he did, ride him back and finish strong, and that's what happened."
King Louis has now recorded two wins, two seconds and three thirds and his stake earnings now total $93,550.
Cutadeel now a top Derby chance
Hawke's Bay-owned Cutadeel took another step towards the Group 1 $1million New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie in March with a dominant winning performance in a $25,000 Rating 72 race over 1600m at Pukekohe last Friday.
The Dundeel gelding completed a winning hat-trick when he powered away from his rivals in the last 200m to score by three-quarters of a length.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained stakes winner is now a joint $8 favourite for the Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 2.
Cutadeel drew wide at Pukekohe and jockey Opie Bosson took him back in the early stages before settling him midfield. Once angled into the clear in the home straight the horse showed a tremendous turn of foot to quickly pick up the leaders.
"Opie rode him a treat, that was a ten out of ten ride and while the margin wasn't that big I think he had a little bit of horse left there too," co-trainer Andrew Forsman said.
While there are a number of paths Cutadeel could take into the New Zealand Derby, Forsman said it was likely he would contest either the Group 2 $100,000 Waikato Guineas (2000m) on February 9 or Group 2 $100,000 Avondale Guineas (2100m) on February 16 in the lead-up.
"They are a week apart now, so that's the problem, so Murray will work that out," Forsman said. "He will talk with the owners and they will figure out a path, but it will be one or the other, he wouldn't need to run in both.
"He has already performed over the 2000m trip so it won't hold any fears."
Bosson was just as pleased with Cutadeel's performance and believes he is a genuine Derby prospect.
"He's a classy horse, it was a pretty good effort coming back to the mile with 59.5 kilos against the older horses," he said. "He's definitely a Derby horse."
Xpression joins Waller stable
Exciting Hastings-trained 3-year-old Xpression will do the rest of her racing in Australia after departing for Sydney last Monday.
The daughter of Showcasing will join premiership-leading trainer Chris Waller's stable and will try to add more black-type to her impressive record.
Xpression had seven starts for the Hastings training partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen for three wins, a second and three thirds and has amassed more than $159,000 in stakemoney.
The daughter of Showcasing won the Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1200m) at Trentham at two finished a narrow second to Avantage in the Group 3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings in September before easily winning the Group 3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m) at Ashburton.
She started a solid favourite for the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) in November and finished third to Media Sensation before rounding off her campaign with a third behind More Wonder over 1400m at Awapuni in December.
"It has been decided to send her to Australia to increase her value and she should get every chance from Chris Waller's stable," Guy Lowry said.
"We wanted to get her over there so she could do some racing as a 3-year-old. There are more opportunities there for her, it was a no brainer really.
"There's not a lot more she can do in New Zealand. She is probably at her peak value here and the only way to increase her value is to send her to Australia."
Lowry was philosophical about losing such a quality filly from his barn and said he is excited to see what she can do in Australia.
Xpression was bred by Haunui Farm studmaster Mark Chitty in partnership with his childhood friend Iain Renton of Hawke's Bay.
The pair race the filly with other close Hawke's Bay friends in Paul Bayes, Mark Apatu and Fred Coates.
Lightning mission for Hugo The Boss
Hastings-trained Hugo The Boss is building such a good record in the straight sprints at Trentham that trainer John Bary is now contemplating a start in the Listed $50,000 Lightning Handicap (1000m) with the horse.
The 5-year-old completed back-to-back victories down the Trentham chute with a gallant effort in a $30,000 Rating 82 race over 1000m there last Saturday.
That followed a similar performance when taking out a Rating 72 event over 1200m on the same track a fortnight earlier.
Craig Grylls was the winning rider last Saturday. He bounced the gelding out quickly from the barrier and he travelled keenly outside the leader and favourite Merlini as they came across the junction and onto the course proper.
Hugo The Boss then looked beaten when Merlini kicked and put a break on him inside the last 300m but he rallied strongly under the urgings of Grylls to get up right on the line to snatch a nose decision.
It was the horse's sixth victory and his third at 1000m.
Bary said he has taken a patient approach with the 5-year-old gelding and that is starting to pay dividends now.
He's taken time, he's only a 5-year-old, but it seems like he has been around forever. He's maturing, he's in a happy place," Bary said.
Bary said while the son of Stratum is in form he will continue with his preparation which will likely culminate with a tilt at the Lightning Handicap (1200m) at Trentham on March 16.
He added that the horse will probably have his next start in an open 1200m race at Awapuni on February 8.
Hugo The Boss is raced by the Best Dressed Syndicate, of which Bary is a shareholder.
The other members are his Hastings-based mother Ann, Alan and Paula Keall and Laurie Parker from Taradale, Innes Nisbet (Havelock North), Narendra Balia and Blair and Denise Martin (Auckland), Gavin Dunnett (Christchurch), Lawrie Bolton (Tauranga) and Heath Newton, who lives in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.
Double success for Pep Torque
Waipukurau-trained Pep Torque completed a winning double on the Trentham track in the space of seven days when taking out a $25,000 Rating 72 race over 1600m there last Saturday.
The Nadeem 5-year-old, prepared by part-owner Kirsty Lawrence, had won a Rating 65 race over the same distance a week earlier at odds of 55 to one.
He wasn't at those odds last Saturday but still rewarded his followers with a dividend of $11.00 for a win and $3.90 for a place.
Pep Torque would have been unlucky not to have won last Saturday as he was momentarily held up when apprentice Charlotte O'Beirne tried to get him into the clear in the last 300m.
She finally angled the horse back to the inside rail and he dashed through a gap to score by a long neck.
Lawrence said after the win she had been a bit worried about backing the horse up so quickly after his win on the middle day of the Wellington Cup carnival but he had done so well that it was a logical decision in the end.
Pep Torque is raced by Lawrence and her husband Steve in partnership with their stable employee Susan Best and the sisters Diana and Christina Newman, who have been long time stable clients.
Timely boost for De Koning's HB owner
De Koning provided his Taradale part-owner Judith Buckeridge with a great tonic when he led all the way in a Rating 65 race over 2100m at Te Rapa on January 20.
Buckeridge, who has been racing thoroughbreds for close on 50 years, is presently undergoing chemotherapy treatment after a major cancer operation in November.
She made it to the racetrack to see De Koning score his second victory from 14 starts, aided by a great ride from jockey Lynsey Satherley.
De Koning is at his best when he can dictate from the front and Satherley let the Niagara 4-year-old slide forward to take the lead at the end of the first 100m.
She then set the pace to suit herself before putting the pressure on the opposition entering the last 600m.
De Koning rounded the home bend with a 2 length advantage and kept up a strong gallop to the line to win by 1-1/2 lengths.
Both of De Koning's wins have now been recorded on the Te Rapa track, the first of them being over 1400m in December 2017.
He has also recorded a second, three thirds, four fourths and four fifths from his 14 starts for Cambridge trainer Fred Cornege.
Judith Buckeridge races De Koning in partnership with the horse's trainer and his wife Lindsay along with her Hawke's Bay-based daughter Luci Firth, grand-daughter Stephanie Buckeridge, Iriaka Pearson and Masterton-based Helen Caseley.