Cambridge trainer Lee Somervell was back singing the praises of One Prize One Goal after the Hawke's Bay-owned four-year-old showed a dramatic form reversal to win at last Friday's Matamata meeting.
The Ekraar four-year-old was a shade slow to begin in a Rating 65 race over 1200m but, after travelling easily in fourth place to the home turn, he showed a great turn of foot in the home straight to race clear for a 1-1/4 length victory.
The performance was in stark contrast to the horse's previous start, over 1500m at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, where he showed an aversion to the right-handed track. He charged into the 600m bend that day and ran off, losing all chance despite jockey Trudy Thornton's attempts to try and keep him on course.
Somervell has long held One Prize One Goal in high regard and was both mystified and disappointed by the horse's Ellerslie run.
"He just didn't seem to like going that way round that day and actually pulled a muscle in his neck, which was caused by Trudy trying to stop him running off," Somervell said.
Somervell had the neck injury treated and gave the horse a freshen up before reverting him back to a left-handed track at Matamata, where he bounced back to his best in no uncertain terms.
One Prize One Goal has now recorded two wins, three seconds and two thirds from only 13 starts. He is raced by Hawke's Bay woman Shirin Wood along with her son Calvin and the estate of her late husband Kevin.
The Woods bred the horse out of the Towkay mare Sheeza Kinda Magic.
The family are huge fans of the rock group Queen and wanted to call the mare It's A Kinda Magic after the band's number one hit but that name had already been taken.
"So we had to go with Sheeza Kinda Magic, which is pretty close," Shirin Wood said.
"There is a line in the song that goes It's A Kinda Magic ... One Prize One Goal which is where this horse's name comes from and his stable name is Freddie, after the band's lead singer Freddie Mercury."
One Prize One Goal is only the second horse to race out of the mare Sheeza Kinda Magic, the other being Jakob Gambino (by Sandtrap) who is the winner of four races for the Woods and is still racing as a nine-year-old in the South Island, recording a last start second over 1335m at Gore on January 20.
Sheeza Kinda Magic is now in foal to Ekraar.
A princess on the racetrack
There are not many race mares in commission that try as hard as Waipukurau-trained Royal Ruby.
The five-year-old daughter of Per Incanto capped off two good third placings with a decisive 1-3/4 length win in a Rating 65 race over 2000m at Hastings on Thursday last week.
She then backed up five days later and, competing out of her grade, turned in another gutsy run for third in the Wairarapa Cup, a Rating 85 race over 2050m at Tauherenikau.
Royal Ruby is trained by the husband and wife team of Tony and Penny Ebbett. She is no superstar, with only two wins from 33 starts, but she has also recorded four seconds and six thirds and has rarely run a bad race.
The country's leading jockey Samantha Collett was aboard the mare at Hastings last week and took her straight to the front from the outset.
She then dictated terms in front and was able to kick clear early in the home straight and pinch a winning break on the opposition.
Chris Johnson was aboard Royal Ruby at Tauherenikau on Tuesday. The mare wanted to over-race in the early stages but the experienced jockey got her to settle just in behind the leaders.
She looked under pressure rounding the home turn but then rallied again late to finish just over 3 lengths from the winner.
Tony Ebbett is the course manager at Waipukurau and he and his wife Penny are hobby trainers, never having more than one or two horses in work at a time.
Their best has been Belfast Lad, whose 12 wins included a Foxton Cup (2040m) at Wanganui.
They race Royal Ruby on lease from her Hastings breeders, John and Colleen Duncan. The mare won her first race at Waipukurau in March last year, when ridden by Chris Johnson.
Significant win by Pep Torque
Waipukurau trainer Kirsty Lawrence and her husband Steve look to have picked up another bargain in Pep Torque, who broke through for a maiden win at just his second start at Tuesday's Tauherenikau meeting.
The Lawrences bought the Nadeem 4-year-old from the thoroughbred trading operation Gavelhouse for just $2600 and he has now picked up $7250 in stake money from a third and a win.
The Lawrences are racing Pep Torque in partnership with their stable employee Susan Best and the sisters Diana and Christina Newman, who have been long time stable clients.
Kirsty Lawrence said she was confident of a big run from Pep Torque in Tuesday's 1000m maiden race at Tauherenikau following his debut third over the same distance at Trentham.
"He went a really good race first up and we were pretty confident after he worked very well here on Saturday."
Pep Torque's win held special significance for Kirsty Lawrence. Her best friend's husband committed suicide last Sunday after battling depression and jockey Alysha Collett wore a blue armband when riding the horse on Tuesday to signify suicide awareness.
Collett positioned Pep Torque perfectly one out and one back in the running before angling him around heels at the top of the home straight to lodge a challenge.
The horse kicked on strongly to score by three-quarters of a length from race favourite Stumpy, with first starter Torre Del Greco a short head back in third.
Collett was suitably impressed by Pep Torque's performance and predicted a bright future for the horse. He is now likely to head to the Wairoa meeting later this month for a Rating 65 race over 1200m.
Pep Torque is by Nadeem out of the Star Way mare Cosmic Flight, who recorded two wins and seven minor placings from only 20 starts.
Coincidentally Cosmic Flight's first win was also in a maiden 1000m race at the exact same Tauherenikau meeting back in 2001.
Kirsty Lawrence presently has six horses in work and said four of them are being aimed at the coming two-day Wairoa meeting.
They include Do Ya, who was the winner of two races last year, and Martinelli who is a three-year-old filly by Burgundy and another buy from Gavelhouse at just $2200.
Magnum back in NZ
Magnum, a horse part-owned by Havelock North's Jason Fleming, has returned from racing in Singapore and will be aimed at black type races in this country this season.
The five-year-old Per Incanto gelding, who was bred by part-owners Little Avondale Stud, won four races in Singapore and was successful in a 935m trial at Cambridge on Monday for trainer Lauren Brennan.
"He had trouble with his joints up there so the connections decided to bring him back here and so far he's a really happy horse," she said.
"If he pulls up well, we'll look at a Rating 85 over 1200m at Ellerslie on February 17 and then there's the option of the Darley Plate.
"We had him as a two-year-old and he had three trials for three wins. He's always been a classy horse."
Sound trial by Bonneval
Outstanding mare Bonneval trialled well at Cambridge on Monday to take her a step closer to opening an autumn campaign in Australia.
The multiple Group 1 winner finished third in her 1200m heat behind stablemates Saint Emilion and Weather With You.
"She ran on nicely and she probably needs another trial before she races in Sydney over a mile in the Chipping Norton," said Murray Baker, who trains with Andrew Forsman.
Bonneval won the Group 3 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings in March last year before going out to take out both the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham and the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) in Sydney.
She also won the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) in Melbourne during the spring.
Gingernuts returns home
Multiple Group 1 winner Gingernuts was on a flight back to New Zealand from Australia this week.
The son of Iffraaj fractured a pastern on the way to the barrier for the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m) at Flemington in the spring and underwent surgery at the University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic at Werribee before being transferred to the nearby King's Park Equine Clinic.
He will continue his rehabilitation at Te Akau Stud in New Zealand with no indication yet whether he will race again.