You have to love Mark Du Plessis' honesty.

The former Zimbabwean claimed only a little of the credit for Innocent Lady's fresh-up victory at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Du Plessis was competing in his first raceday since the end of the Hong Kong season with just a couple of rides in Singapore between.

This was definitely a race in which fitness mattered for rider and horse and Du Plessis was feeling the pinch.


Innocent Lady got there in a close finish with Master Power and One Nite Stand, but Du Plessis didn't put his hand up for much credit.

"I'm pleased she was fitter than I was," he said as he climbed off the impressive winner.

"I wasn't much use to her in the last 50m. She did that bit all on her own."

A lot of the credit goes to the fitness levels Graeme and Mark Sanders were able to put into Innocent Lady, whose last race was in the 3200m Auckland Cup in March at Ellerslie.

"It was 1400m and she was ready to run 1600m," said Graeme Sanders.

The gutsy mare was in trouble in the very testing ground once Du Plessis let her head go approaching the home turn.

For a 100m stretch she looked likely to run closer to last than first. "She was not handling the ground at all," said Du Plessis.

"If the track had been two points better she'd have won by one length."


Innocent Lady proves the point that thoroughbreds don't have to be big in stature to have big hearts.

It was only her heart that got her home in this race.

"I know she's still not a big horse, but I reckon she's grown two inches on the wither since she last raced," said Rick Williams, who manages The Oaks Stud, which races the mare.

Sanders said the win confirmed plans to aim towards attempting to get a place in the Melbourne Cup field.

There was more to Baldovino's $25,000 Taumarunui RSA win on Saturday than meets the eye.

To back up a week after the first time of leaving the Rogerson stable and win again is pretty special.

Even more so when having trouble with the rain-affected track.

Baldovino was travelling beautifully under James McDonald to the home bend - until McDonald had to let his head go.

Then he floundered, but he floundered very well and in the closing stages his class was too much.

"That's why I've nominated him for the group ones [at Hastings]," said Graeme Rogerson.

Whether he wins at that level just yet, or even makes it to Hastings, Baldovino is an exceptionally talented galloper.

The last thing you generally like to see if you've got a leader is something attacking mid-race.

John Bary welcomed it when John Gray went to eyeball No Excuse Maggie at the 900m before she won the Woods Group Premier at Te Rapa.

"She's tough, this mare, and I wasn't disappointed with a horse carrying 4.5kg more had her on.

"I knew they wouldn't be able to out-tough her."

They couldn't. No Excuse Maggie looked a clear-cut winner when she booted clear again at the 350m, but the favourite, Ourforeignminister, challenged hard.

"There is a 2000m R90 race at Hastings which I think will suit her."

Bary does not rate No Excuse Maggie as just a mudder.

"She's won on a good track. When she got beaten at Hastings the track was hard and she jarred up.

"She's such a big mare she hits the ground hard."