Underrated mare Lucyinrio caused a minor upset when she outgunned a small but select field of open-grade sprinters over 1200m at Ruakaka on Saturday.
The lightly raced 8-year-old, who came north to a new Cambridge base with trainer Kylie Little when she moved there from Opaki late last season, had struck first up at Ruakaka when successful over a similar distance on June 15.
Stepped up to 1400m for her subsequent start at the venue a fortnight later, the Captain Rio mare disappointed when dropping out in the run home after racing on the speed throughout.
Given a brief freshen-up by Little, Lucyinrio was back to her brilliant best for rider Lynsey Satherley as she once again sat outside a steady pace set up by the free-goer Admiral before dashing clear early in the run home. Hotly challenged by race favourite Hanger and local runner Rikki Tikki Tavi, Lucyinrio stuck to her guns as she held out the pair to win by a neat length at the line.
"It was a super ride by Lynsey as she told me how it would pan out and that's exactly how it went," Little said.
"She's a really good mare who has been Group Two- and Group Three-placed.
"We're heading to the Red Badge Sprint on the last day at Hastings [Gr.3, 1400m] next."
The victory brought up a winning double for Satherley, who had guided another Cambridge-trained runner in De Koning to an all-the way success over 1600m in the previous race.
Earlier in the day the Tony Pike-trained Sherwood Forest kicked off his 3-year-old campaign with a narrow but impressive victory in maiden company over 1400m.
The strapping Fastnet Rock gelding had impressed when finishing close up in stakes company at Ellerslie in the last two runs of his 2-year-old campaign.
Ridden by Troy Harris, Sherwood Forest managed to down outsider Gigolo George in a driving finish despite displaying some wayward tendencies in the home straight.
"He was doing a lot wrong up the home straight, looking at the other horse," Pike stable representative Dean Williams said.
"He had blinkers on as a 2-year-old so I wouldn't be surprised if they come back on again.
"He will improve again once we put him up in trip but he's an exciting horse going forward."
The disappointment in the race was hot favourite Holy Mongolemperor, who endured a rocky run amongst horses throughout before battling into fifth without threatening the eventual winner.
TAB bookmakers reacted to the result by tightening Sherwood Forest to $14 on the Fixed Odds market for the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November, while Holy Mongolemperor drifted to $8 behind early favourite Catalyst ($3.50).