The jumping fortunes of Whanganui trainer Raymond Connors and Waverley jockey Isaac Lupton turned around in dramatic fashion on Saturday after a dismal start to proceedings at the Ellerslie races.
Our Jackson finished a distant fifth for them in the Barfoot & Thompson Steeplechase before Max tired badly in the Schweppes Great Northern Hurdles and was pulled up.
However, everything went to plan with Wise Men Say in the Irvines Great Northern Steeplechase, as Connors and Lupton celebrated their fourth win together in the $125,000 feature, which they previously claimed three times with Hypnotize in 2007-8 and 2010.
Wise Men Say had won the McGregor Grant Steeplechase in June and subsequent placings in the Manawatu and Wellington Steeplechases, along with the Pakuranga Hunt Cup, made him favourite for the Northern.
"It was a great win and he's had good form all year," said Connors, who also trained and rode Our Jonty to victory in 1998.
"It looked like the race was going to suit him, but it was a good field and you never take anything for granted."
A plan to ride Wise Men Say closer to the pace in the 6400m contest also proved significant.
"I suggested that to Isaac - keep him up there a bit closer," said Connors, who races the eight-year-old with his father Mark.
"He's a very good stayer, Yamanin Vital is a big help."
Wise Men Say had the leaders within his sights going up the hill the final time and Lupton made his move on the descent.
They were clear at the top of the straight and strode away to score by 12 and a-half lengths.
"Raymond said to be positive today, he's the best stayer and I had to ride him with that in mind and thankfully he was good enough to do the job," said Lupton, who also rode the 2013 winner Rangatira.
Two-time Grand National Steeplechase winner Upper Cut was second with Tizza Secret third and more than 20 lengths back in fourth was The Oysterman, who was down to a walk. - NZ Racing Desk.