An awkward gate worked in Barcelo's favour when the 3-year-old triumphed in a competitive age group event at Ruakaka, according to rider Shaun McKay.

The genuine son of Alamosa covered extra ground before he bagged a family victory in yesterday's Cookson Plumbing Sprint.

"I was always going to be out there and they went quite quickly so it was actually good for me and I could start moving when I wanted to," said McKay, whose father Peter trains Barcelo and, in partnership with his wife Kim, also owns the gelding.

Barcelo was three wide near the pace and he finished resolutely in the straight to get the better of the filly Mystery Show, who was wayward under pressure close to home.


"She gave my horse a bit of a bump and I could probably have protested if she had got up," McKay said.

Barcelo fashioned a tidy record last season and he was a winner on the course in early July before he returned to Ruakaka later that month to finish second.

"He was a different horse today - Dad freshened him up and didn't gallop him as much and he's got the job done well," McKay said.

Barcelo may now head back to Ruakaka in a fortnight's time for the Listed Tavistock Northland Breeders' Stakes ahead of possible tilts at the Hawke's Bay Guineas and NZ 2000 Guineas.