A $3000 horse who nearly didn't make the race caused one of the biggest upsets in recent New Zealand racing history when winning the $200,000 Tarzino Trophy at Hastings this afternoon.
Callsign Mav made the most of a perfect ride from Jonathan Riddell to win the first Group 1 of the thoroughbred season after getting as long as 100-1 in the market, holding off Supera and luckless favourite Avantage.
Callsign Mav was struggling to make the race just two weeks ago until several key runners pulled out and he snuck into the 1400m on his home track.
As is so often the case in the Tarzino those handy and on the fence had too much of an advantage and he surged clear at the 200m to hold off the mares in an outstanding training performance from John Bary, with Callsign Mav having not raced since March.
Even more remarkably he was just a $3000 purchase, mere giveaway stuff, at the 2017 mixed bloodstock sale at Karaka.
"I don't even know how the owners ended up buying him," laughed Bary.
"I had never trained a horse for them before but starting talking to the managing owner Jeremy Cross one day and the horses ended up at my place.
"And I also ended up with 10 per cent of him too so I was doubly blessed."
Not that Bary was on track to see the win, laid up at home after two recent back operations to fix a prolapsed disk.
"The first op didn't work that well so we have had a second go but so far so good.
"I am lucky my staff know our systems so well and we have our own track so I still manage to sneak down to see the horses work.
"But it has been a big team effort."
Huge credit must also go to Riddell, who used to ride most of Bary's team and is admired as one of the most determined jockeys in the country as he fights so hard to ride at competitive weights.
If he was four kilograms lighter his life would be a lot easier and he could be a superstar of the saddle.
Bary says Callsign Mav is likely to back up in the 1600m Windsor Park Plate at Hastings on October 3 but far less likely to stretch to the 2040m of the Livamol Classic on October 17.
So was he surprised to win a Group 1 with an $82 chance?
"Well I suppose you would have to be unless you took his record on his home track into account. That is his sixth start here for four wins and a second to Catalyst."
Supera was excellent in second after getting well back on the inside and can only improve for the longer races of the Triple Crown while little went right for Avantage.
She slightly missed the kick and settled midfield outer so needed to improve four wide around the home bend. She closed hard over the last 200m but simply covered too much more ground than the first two home after they hugged the rail.
While she had no luck the remainder of the day was near-perfect for trainer Jamie Richards as he took won three of the support races including the Gold Trail Stakes with the impressive Miss Aotearoa.
The day's other feature was also won by a local and in quite sensational fashion as debutante Shezzacatch won the listed El Roca Trophy at her first start.