A stirring victory by handy winter sprinter Aero De Paris at Te Rapa yesterday provided some additional holiday cheer for co-trainer Andrew Scott.
Scott, who prepares the 6-year-old son of Tavistock with training partner Lance O'Sullivan, is in the middle of a two-week South Island sojourn with his family but found his way to a Christchurch pub to watch the open 1200m contest.
Aero De Paris relished the Heavy10 track conditions plus the 3kg weight relief provided by the claim of in-form apprentice Erin Leighton to dash clear in the run home to win by just on a length from Crystallize, with Shoshone a further six lengths away in third.
Scott was quick to pay tribute to the ride by Leighton on a horse that has enough quirks to make him a difficult ride at times.
"That was a super ride by Erin, as she got good cover for him in the trail, and then put him in the right place in the run home," Scott said.
"She sat nice and calmly, and really got him travelling sweetly as she worked clear of them over the last 200m.
"It was a bit of a gamble putting Erin on, as he can be a very tough horse to ride, and especially for an apprentice.
"We've watched Erin over the last few months, and she is very good when working horses, so we decided to give her a chance on him.
"He didn't know himself with just 51kg on his back, as last time he carried 59kg into second at Tauranga and 58kg the start before."
Scott is unsure about future plans for Aero De Paris but believes he can be competitive in the open grade on the deep winter tracks.
"We think he goes better right-handed, so we'll be looking for something for him in the open grade going that way around, if we can find it.
"He loves the winter footing, and while he is in a good position in the weights, you want to take advantage of that."
Scott was also happy with the run of Taumarunui Gold Cup (2200m) candidate Divine Duke, who came from near last to run fourth in a rating 74 2200m contest later in the day.
"He [Divine Duke] went a good honest race with a big weight [58.5kg] on his back," Scott said.
"He got back on the inside, which was a tough place to be, but I thought he ran on nicely in the home straight.
"He drops down to the minimum in the Taumarunui Cup in three weeks, and I think if he can find his best form, then he will be a good chance in the race."
The win by Aero De Paris was the second of a winning treble for Leighton, who had earlier scored aboard Battle Time in an open 1600m event before leading all the way aboard El Nymph in race seven on the card.
●Consistent performer Tavis Court added to an impressive career record when he bolted away with an open 1400m contest at Awapuni yesterday.
The Anna Clement-trained 5-year-old started a red-hot $1.70 favourite in the seven-horse field and never gave his supporters an ounce of worry as he forged clear in the run home for rider Charlotte O'Beirne to win comfortably by four lengths.
Heavy track specialist Diogenes chased gamely to take second, while evergreen galloper Dolcetto ran on nicely from the rear for third, although neither looked like troubling the winner once he established his winning break.
Clement was delighted with the victory after having some doubts as to whether the son of Tavistock would handle the Heavy10 surface.
NZ Racing Desk