Belle Du Nord upset the applecart when she produced a storming finish to snatch victory in the group two Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa yesterday.
Settled in the rear by rider Vinnie Colgan, Belle Du Nord swooped down the outskirts of the track to out-finish race favourite Lizzie L'Amour, with Supera fighting on well for third.
Group one placed in the Levin Classic (1600m) last season, the Reliable Man mare delivered on the promise she had shown during a somewhat frustrating three-year-old campaign to capture her second career victory.
"That was really good as it's been a long time between wins," said co-trainer Emma-Lee Browne, who prepares the mare with husband David.
"After the first win it has taken a while for her to get her second one, but to do it in a group two is just so good for the owners."
Browne admitted she had been watching the weather all week in the hope the predicted heavy rain would not arrive before the race.
"The key for her is track conditions as she needs it firm," she said.
"We've been watching the weather all week and we finally got the track she really likes."
The heavily supported Lizzie L'Amour, who was looking for back-to-back victories in the race after triumphing in the 2017 edition of the contest, had to settle for second this time while lightly-raced mare Supera secured some valuable black-type with a fighting effort for third.
Meanwhile, the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman trained Mongolian Marshal exacted revenge when he turned the tables on his last-start conqueror in the group three SkyCity Hamilton Waikato Cup (2400m).
He had been defeated by race-rival Igraine when the pair clashed for the first time in last month's group three Counties Cup (2100m). This time it was Mongolian Marshal who gained the upper-hand as he powered home in the straight to out-finish the pace-making Igraine, who fought on bravely for second ahead of top-weight Five To Midnight.
Co-trainer Murray Baker believes the improved footing, with Te Rapa racing on a Dead4 surface as opposed to the Slow7 at Pukekohe, was a key component to the victory.
"The plan was to hold him up a bit so he could sprint and he sprinted well enough," he said.
"The track might have tripped him a wee bit at Pukekohe although the winner was far too good that day."
The win capped off a productive period for the Baker/Forsman team who saw their filly Queen Of Diamonds hand out a beating to her three-year-old rivals in the group three Lawnmaster Eulogy Stakes (3YOs, 1550m) at Awapuni just 20 minutes earlier.
- NZ Racing Desk