Fireworks were expected at Te Rapa yesterday as several of last season's equine stars kicked off their spring campaigns in the Group 2 US Navy Flag Foxbridge Plate (1200m) and it was recent Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) placegetter Endless Drama who delivered a stunning win.
The Tony Pike-trained eight-year-old had been given a short let-up after returning from his Brisbane exertions with Pike mindful of keeping weight off the giant frame of the Lope de Vega entire.
That decision paid off big time as the former Chris Waller-trained galloper paraded as a picture of health before the race with punters installing him an $8 fourth favourite behind the Te Akau Racing pair of Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle and up and comer Helena Baby.
Given an economical trip from an inside barrier, Endless Drama settled in midfield during the early stages of the contest as Malambo and Southern Icon duelled out in front.
Rider Leith Innes had his charge off the fence at the 600m and the combination glided into contention before Innes asked for an effort at the 300m. Endless Drama responded instantly and sprinted clear before holding out the late charge of Te Akau Shark, who stormed home from second-last to pip outsider Comeback for second.
Pike was delighted with the result as he prepares his charge for a tilt at the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings in a fortnight.
"He's become a real stable pet, this horse," Pike said.
He came back from Brisbane in great order and trialled superbly here a couple of weeks ago.
"There was a big query on the track but it was a perfect ride from Leith. The biggest thing is just waiting, as he has only got a short, sharp sprint but he waited and waited and got it right. Thanks to Chris Waller for leaving him with me and to Qatar Bloodstock [owners], as they are big investors in the industry."
- NZ Racing Desk