All the talk this week was about an Australian horse, Newton Prince, and veteran jockey Noel Harris leading up to yesterday's first spring meeting in Hastings.
"Frankly", someone forgot to mention the prowess of the John Bary-trained mare with an apprentice jockey, Miranda Dravitzki, who beat the favourites by one and a quarter lengths in the $12,000 Niagara At Lime Country Sprint over 1400m at the HB racecourse.
"She's been a good, honest mare," Bary said, shortly after fellow Hastings trainer Guy Lowry shook his hands in the birdcage after Frankly's win.
"She was one I thought was good enough to run in the Opunake Cup [contested last month] but didn't make the field so she had to come here to win today to get some points beside her name.
"Now we'll have a decent go at some race, something like the Merial Metric Mile," he said of the 5-year-old mare who will contest the feature at Awapuni on September 13. Before that, Bary will run her in the open mile on the first day of the $1.5 million JB Organics-sponsored HB Spring Racing Carnival in Hastings on August 30.
The first highlight of the three meetings is the Makfi Challenge Stakes. The Windsor Park Plate is on September 20, and the Spring Classic on October 4.
With Waikato Stud owning Frankly, Bary hopes she will go on to gain some black type to make her a valuable breeding prospect.
Bary had discussed Newton Prince's Australian form with the gelding's co-trainer, Brendon Hawtin, who was unsure of what the horse could do despite his record of three wins from six starts for $192,000 in stakes.
"But she [Frankly] ran well so you can't worry too much about the opposition on the day."
New Plymouth-based Dravitzki, who has notched up a dozen wins for Bary, felt Frankly was a good contender after she finished third at her last outing.
"It was pretty much how I had envisioned it.
"I thought I might have had more competition up the straight but she's done it easy," Dravitzki said after the win on the slow (8) track.
Into the second year of her apprenticeship, she was grateful to Bary and the owners for supporting her.
"It's been a great start to the season. I've had two wins already," she said, after registering her first victory this season at Riccarton, clinching the Winter Cup on Karla Brunei last Saturday for her first black-type win.
Asked if she wanted to be in the saddle at the Makfi Stakes and Metric Mile races, the 26-year-old replied: "I sure do."
It was Newton Prince's New Zealand debut yesterday with jockey Harris settling for second place. Opie Bosson had wanted to take the mount but could not make the weight.
The former Western Australian galloper had already impressed in a trial victory at Te Awamutu on a rain-affected track. Hawtin's new client, Richard Yui, bought the 4-year-old, who is probably heading for Hong Kong if he accrues a couple more rating points.
Newton Prince was spelled after he won the listed Aquanita Stakes (1800m) at Ascot in December.
He then finished fourth when resuming in the listed Lex Piper Stakes (1600m) in March.
Among the opposition yesterday was the last-start winner, Weissmuller, who holds nominations for all three group one events at the Bay spring carnival.
The Andrew Campbell-trained 5-year-old gelding finished sixth.
Aldebaran Star, with Jonathan Riddell in the saddle, was third, half a length behind Newton Prince.
Bary enjoyed success earlier, when Shannon Doyle rode Taken The Liberty to victory in the 1200m DHL Hawke's Bay Guineas Prelude.
"He's a very smart 3-year-old and he won on debut so he looks nice and is heading for the Hawke's Bay Guineas," Bary said.
Former Havelock North New World supermarket owner Anthony Clarke and partner and Michele Scanlon co-own the brown gelding with TAB race announcer George Simon and his wife, Maryanne.
"It was a good win because a lot of money went into it," Bary said, adding Taken The Liberty was a very good horse in the making.
"He's shown what he can do so we'll just have to guide him through his career."