The easy access to a water-walker is said to have been instrumental in the form reversal shown by Hawke's Bay-owned Myrtle, who bounced back to her best with a dominant win at Woodville last week.
The four-year-old Keeper mare took out a $10,000 Rating 65 race over 1400m, showing an exceptional turn of foot inside the last 200 metres to race clear of her rivals and score by two lengths.
It was the mare's second win from only nine starts but her first since she took out a maiden 1200m race at Awapuni on Anzac Day last year.
Back then Myrtle was prepared by Hastings trainer John Bary and she also recorded three third placings while in his stable.
However she started to develop some niggling problems, according to her Hastings co-owner Gerard Moughan.
"It was mainly hoof problems," Moughan said this week.
"She was constantly being troubled by bruising of the heels and so she came home to my place for a three-month spell and when she was ready to go back into work we decided to send her down to David Goldsbury at Awapuni.
"He has access to a water-walker down there and she does a lot of work on that, instead of pounding her legs working on the track."
Myrtle hadn't raced for six months when she stepped out at Woodville on Thursday of last week but had indicated she was ready to perform well by winning a 1000m Foxton trial the week before and her connections were quietly confident.
"She is a horse that has always raced well fresh and I think she has also taken a bit of time to strengthen," Moughan added.
"But by the way she won I think she might have really come to it now."
The Woodville track was rated a dead-5 and Myrtle seemed to relish the conditions.
Jockey Darryl Bradley settled the mare in the trail and got a charmed rails run on the home turn, when the rest ran wide, to quickly challenge for the lead. She looked to be just holding her rivals at bay until Bradley gave her a couple of cracks with the whip and she accelerated clear.
Moughan and Napier's Tony Aldridge bred Myrtle and race the mare with Aldridge's Wellington-based brother Pat as well as a number of other Hawke's Bay people. They include Ken Lynch and Morrie Belle from Napier, Alan Hunt, Bevan Bramley, Alistair Poulgrain from Hastings, Terry Coffey and John and Stephen Dine from Taradale and Peter Wilkins (Havelock North).
Myrtle is out of the Postponed mare Granuaile, who was purchased by Moughan for $26,000 at a 2009 Karaka Mixed Bloodstock sale.
Jumps next for Zed Leppelin
Hastings-trained Zed Leppelin brought up his fourth win on the flat when successful over 2100m at Woodville last week but he will be back over hurdles at next Thursday's Hawke's Bay meeting.
The eight-year-old, prepared by the husband and wife team of Mick Brown and Sue Thompson, led all the way over 2100m at Woodville and held on gamely to beat race favourite Nunchucks by three-quarters of a length.
It was Zed Leppelin's first success since he scored a winning double at Hastings in the spring of 2016 but he has been placed several times since and recorded two fourth placings in maiden hurdle races last winter.
Zed Leppelin has spent the past week in Waverley where he has undergone a course of schooling under the guidance of successful jumps jockey Shaun Fannin.
"We thought it was better to get him schooled over there where there are several horses he can go with and it can teach him a lot more," co-trainer Mick Brown said this week.
Zed Leppelin was bred by Hawke's Bay couple Peter and Sharon Robertson and is raced by them in partnership with Hong Kong-based Marcus Glucina.
First win for HB owner
Havelock North's Tess Castles celebrated her first success as a racehorse owner when London Express won the $10,000 two-year-old race over 1200m at New Plymouth last Saturday.
Castles is the wife of Hawke's Bay Racing chief executive Andrew Castles and her and three close friends, Emma Davies, Anna McKenzie and Anna Milne, lease a 50 per cent racing share in the Shamexpress filly.
Andrew Castles and the husbands of the other three women have raced horses successfully for 25 years and they thought it was time to give the wives a chance.
The win by London Express capped two good third placings from her first two starts, over 1000m at Trentham in March and 1100m at New Plymouth last month.
She is trained on the New Plymouth track by Allan Sharrock and credited his apprentice jockey Wiremu Pinn with instant success in his first race-ride.
Pinn, 19, made it a truly memorable day by also winning aboard the Sharrock-trained Art Deco in one of the main races at the New Plymouth meeting, the open 1200m sprint.
Sharrock has a high opinion of London Express and the filly is now likely to contest the Listed $50,000 Castletown Stakes (1200m) at Wanganui on June 2.
Hastings races Thursday
Fans of jumping racing will be in for a treat at next Thursday's Hawke's Bay meeting with the likelihood of one steeplechase race and two hurdle events among at least eight races at the annual Fruitfed Supplies raceday.
It will be the first lot of jumping races held on the Hastings track this year and will serve as a lead up to the Hawke's Bay meeting on June 30, which will feature both the Hawke's Bay Steeplechase and Hawke's Bay Hurdles.
There is free admission at next Thursday's meeting and the members stand will also be open for the general public. The first race is timed for 12.05pm but could be brought forward if an extra race is added.
Miss Wilson still Aussie bound
Hastings trainer John Bary is mulling over his lead-up options with Miss Wilson ahead of her Group 1 goal at the Queensland winter carnival.
Bary was forced to withdraw the mare from last Saturday's Group 3 Rotorua Stakes (1400m) due to a heavy track, but has no concerns about the impact of missing an outing.
"There's a flight on June 8 so she'll head to Brisbane for the Tatts Tiara, it will just be the one run and then she can spell over there," Bary said.
"I haven't quite worked out what we do in the meantime, there are a few options.
"There's the Waverley trials, although that's a three and a-half hour trip, or maybe an exhibition gallop here.
"I think they have jumpouts every Tuesday over there so she could have a run along and then into the Tiara on June 23. We've got a few options and she's still got residual fitness so I'm not worried."
The feature fillies and mares' race will be run at Doomben, a course Bary is confident will suit Miss Wilson, and a track he has enjoyed past Group success on.
He prepared The Hombre to win the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2020m) there in 2006.
Miss Wilson hasn't raced since the daughter of Stratum produced a career-best performance to win the Group 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes (1600m) in early April. She is also the winner of two Group 2 races and is a half-sister to former New Zealand Horse of the Year Jimmy Choux, now resident at Rich Hill Stud, who was a five time Group 1 winner for Bary and finished runner-up to Pinker Pinker in the 2011 Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
Bi-monthly award winners
The connections of Hawke's Bay-trained Tuigold are the recipients of the Kevin Wood Memorial trophy for the months of March and April.
The bi-monthly award is sponsored by the Hawke's Bay Racehorse Owners Association and is presented to association members who have achieved recent success.
Tuigold is raced by John Best, David Lumsden and Steve Wyman and broke out of maiden ranks with an impressive win over 1450m at Wairoa on February 25.
The horse is prepared by the partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen and done most of his training this year on the Dannevirke property of Cullen's partner Nikki Lourie.
Vale Peter Mitchell
Prominent thoroughbred owner Peter Mitchell died suddenly earlier this week.
Mitchell, whose colours were most famously carried by the mighty galloper Bonecrusher, passed away aged 73.
Trained by Frank Ritchie, Bonecrusher was a multiple Group 1 winner on both sides of the Tasman and his victory over Waverley Star in the 1986 Cox Plate (2040m) is acknowledged as one of greatest editions of the race.
In recent years Mitchell had an ownership interest in the multiple winner Excalibur, trained for him by Ritchie's son Shaune, while his colours were carried to victory as recently as Wednesday of last week when Cyber Attack won an 1150m maiden race at Te Awamutu.
Taranaki stars doing well
Star stablemates Kawi and Ladies First are making good progress as they prepare for a return to the racetrack in the spring.
"Kawi's on the water walker at Robyn and Russell Rogers' place at Cambridge and he's coming along nicely," trainer Allan Sharrock said.
"Ladies First has been on the walker for two weeks and she'll do another week before she goes to Jaimee-Lee Lupton's place and five weeks later she'll be back with me."
Kawi was sidelined by a fetlock issue in the summer while Ladies First was spelled after her courageous victory in the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m), which prompted plans for a Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) campaign later this year.