Cambridge-based trainer Brendon Hawtin achieved one of his career goals when lightly raced 4-year-old Simply Optimistic scored a decisive victory over 1200m at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
After spending a good part of his youth in Sydney where his father Keith played an integral role in fellow New Zealander Graeme Rogerson's multi-state training operation, the younger Hawtin had always cherished the thought of returning one day with a horse good enough to compete in the Sydney market.
That goal was fulfilled on Saturday when Simply Optimistic produced a sustained finish in the closing stages for rider Josh Parr to win at his first start since September last year.
Hawtin was on top of the world as he ticked off a career ambition.
"That was an amazing feeling and I'm just so chuffed to get the win and stick it up the Aussies like that," he said. "It's not often our sprinting types can come over here and win against them so that made it even better for us. I've been waiting a long time for a horse good enough to be able to bring over and this guy has proved to be the one.
Hawtin firmly believed the Encosta De Lago 4-year-old had the ability to compete at a high level but immaturity issues and a minor injury had combined to restrict the number of starts they could give the horse since he made his debut at Te Rapa back in August 2017.
Hawtin will now look for another Sydney target before sending the horse south to the stable of his good mate Trent Busuttin for the foreseeable future.
"He's going to stay over here in Australia now and we hope he might be competitive in and around Melbourne in the spring. I do think in 12 months he will be at his best and could be a real Carnival contender.
- NZ Racing Desk