Raymond Connors' training talents were showcased yesterday with a memorable double.
The Wanganui trainer was at Te Rapa to see Max victorious in the Signature Homes Waikato Steeplechase (3900m) and three-quarters of an hour later stablemate She's Poppy resumed on a top note by claiming the Listed James Bull Rangitikei Gold Cup (1600m) at Awapuni.
He has an outstanding record with jumpers — most notably the three-time Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) winner Hypnotize — but his conditioning skills with the flat members of his team are also first-rate.
Two Gr. 3 New Zealand Cups (3200m) with Blood Brotha, who also won a Gr. 2 Wellington Cup (2400m) and ran fourth in the Gr. 1 Sydney Cup (3200m), and a Gr. 3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) with his Gr. 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) and Gr. 1 AJC Derby (2400m) placegetter King Johny emphasise Connors' ability.
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She's Poppy was making her first appearance for six months, She's Poppy came with a well-timed run under Shaun McKay to beat a game Ringo, who gave the winner seven kilos.
Meanwhile, The Shackler claimed the first prestige event of the jumping season when second best at Te Rapa had looked more likely to be his reward.
The Paul Nelson-trained veteran measured his jumps well in or near the lead under Aaron Kuru during yesterday's Porritt Sand Waikato Hurdle (3200m) before he was hotly challenged by It's A Wonder three flights from home.
The latter then lost his chance when the Harvey Wilson-prepared gelding met the second last hurdle poorly and all but dislodged rider Will Gordon, who did well to stay aboard and finish runner-up.
- NZ Racing Desk