The Kevin Myers-trained Yardarm, ridden by replacement jockey James Seivwright, won the feature jumping event, the Hawke's Bay Steeplechase (4800m), at Hastings yesterday.
Seivwright picked up the ride after Sam O'Malley had to forego the mount due to suffering a heavy concussion and fractured vertebrae when Remarx fell heavily in the first hurdle race on the card.
Seivwright kept Yardarm in contact with the pacemakers Notabadrooster and It's A Wonder throughout before asserting control around the home bend.
Yardarm flew the last fence and raced away to register just his second career victory and first over the bigger fences after taking out a maiden hurdle event at Te Aroha back in July 2015.
The rising 12-year-old, who carries the colours of former champion galloper Mainbrace, was good enough to finish second in the 2017 Australian Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) but has been plagued by injury throughout his career and returned to racing only in May after finishing sixth in the 2019 KS Browne Hurdle (3350m) at Ellerslie.
Seivwright was delighted to take the win but was feeling for O'Malley after the race.
"I'm ecstatic with that but it's a real shame for Sam to have to miss out through those circumstances," he said. "I knew the horse had the ability, but he's been unlucky over his career and has copped a number of injuries.
"He really just towed me around and I didn't have to do much at all. He made a mistake at the third-last fence, and when I gave him a squeeze, he just took off. I didn't realise I was in front by so much until I got to the winning post."
Meanwhile, the Toby Autridge-trained Tommyra returned to his best form over fences when he sprang a minor upset in winning the Hawke's Bay Hurdle (3100m).
The 2020 Waikato Hurdle (3200m) winner had been overlooked by many as punters gravitated towards topweight Tallyho Twinkletoe and the promising Bak Da Master to win the feature hurdle event on the card. Tommyra was ridden aggressively by Shaun Phelan, who picked up the ride after Reece Cole was stood down after a fall in the first race.
Autridge was excited. "I didn't think the day was going to go too well after we lost our jockey, but I was thrilled Shaun could take the ride," he said.
- NZ Racing Desk