Great Northern Steeplechase queen Ann Browne put the reins on her twelfth winner when Tom's Myth stylishly won the great race at Ellerslie yesterday.
Once again that conditioning played its part in one of the world's most energy-sapping horse races. Tom's Myth, who had followed his breakthrough Wellington Steeplechase win in July with a second to stablemate Ima Heroine in the Pakuranga Hunt Cup a fortnight ago, was simply too strong for his opposition as he forged clear to down Myths And Legends by two and a half lengths.
While it was more of the same for Browne, the victory was a first for Shaun Phelan, who at 20 years became the second youngest jockey to win the race after 19-year-old Snow Scanlon on Bob's Luck in 1973.
"Just fantastic, what a good feeling," said Phelan. "He gave me a good ride and picked them up when I asked him to go in the final lap."
Up until then Phelan had been content to allow Tom's Myth lob along in the rear but it was obvious when he loomed into the action that he was going to be hard to hold out. Cape Kinaveral (Cody Singer) and Myths And Legend (Jo Rathbone), led Toms Myth over the last but they were unable to withstand Tom's Myth in the run to the line.
Myths And Legends held second from Cape Kinaveral, with Sportavian a brave fourth ahead of Shooting Daggers.
"That's the fourth time one of my horses has finished second to a Browne horse in the Great Northern," said Myths and Legends' part-owner Roger Brooks.
The coincidence in that result was that both horses are by the former smart stayer Rainbow Myth, while the irony as far as the runner-up is concerned is that Ann Browne's horses travelled to Ellerslie in the truck owned by her neighbours the Brooks.
"Don't worry, we won't be making Ann walk home," said Brooks, whose son Mark trains Myths And Legends and is also responsible for the jumping education of yesterday's Great Northern Hurdle winner Waitoki Ahi.
Defending Great Northern title-holder Ima Heroine failed to figure yesterday, crossing the line in eighth place after being a clear last in the running. She had caught the field into the final circuit but produced nothing of the finish that has characterised other performances over the Ellerslie hill.
"The ground was too good for her today and on top of the hill she just didn't feel comfortable in it," said rider Mathew Gillies.