Form from point-to-point meetings at Waverley and Awapuni in recent weeks proved the best guide at the first jumping raceday of the season at Wanganui yesterday.
Four of the eight races carded were over jumps with the winners of each featuring on the podium at both point-to-points.
The Paul Nelson-trained Better On Top started the ball rolling winning the first of the two 4100m steeplechase events from the Wanganui-trained O'Connor with Stratford visitor Flash Of Diamonds powering home late for third. Richard Cully rode the winner.
The other steeplechase was won by Kevin Myers' runner Roodyvoo with Isaac Lupton up from a brave Butch James, who is a former Wanganui Cup winner on the flat.
Both 3000m hurdle events featured several milestones.
The Palamountains Vita Block Maiden hurdle was won by a jubilant Irishman John Maguire, having his first win anywhere in the world as a fully-fledged jockey. He was on the Myers-trained Findersfee.
Born in the Irish town of Donegal, Maguire rode as an amateur at home posting 15 winners.
"But today was special - it was my first as a professional and my first in New Zealand. I'm over the moon," Maguire said.
"I was out hunting this horse about two months ago. He gave me a horrible ride that day, but a perfect trip today - thanks a million to Mr Myers for his support."
Maguire plans to hang around for the New Zealand winter in the hope of picking up a few more winners over the fences.
The race was also a milestone for talented Irish rider Lisa Whelan who is apprenticed to Myers - it was the first raceday ride over fences for the natural lightweight.
Whelan's first mount was McCully for her boss and the horse pulled hard throughout the fast-paced race. Coming into the home straight, favourite Tap N Gold fell at the second last fence forcing Whelan to search for a clear landing space mid-flight.
"I saw the horse fall and immediately looked for a clear landing and aimed for that. Luckily we found it and stayed up."
The pair finished well back behind Findersfee after being stopped in their tracks.
In second hurdle of the day, Whelan had to borrow lead weights off Maguire to make the 69.5kg impost of former Melbourne Cup runner Capecover.
After moving up outside the leader Thatz David on the second lap, Whelan and Capecover looked likely winners at the top of the straight before being mown down by the lighter-weighted Dubhdara.
Myers confirmed Capecover may be Melbourne-bound for the Victorian winter jumping season.