Mr Hopkins’ (NZ) (Mastercraftsman) convincing first career win in the $20,000 Maiden race over 1600m on Friday night gave jockey Olivier Placais a bit of a fist pump moment after the line.
One race earlier, the Frenchman thought he was home on $14 favourite King Of War for trainer James Peters, only to be denied by Racer King (Mark Ewe) inside the last 100m.
With Mr Hopkins also from Peters’ yard, Placais had only one thing in mind as he walked into the parade ring for the next event: Redeem himself.
Contrary to King Of War who enjoyed the box-seat in the $45,000 Class 4 Non Premier race (1000m), Mr Hopkins had to cover extra ground when trapped out three wide, but always travelling comfortably on the bit.
Usually a long way back when the chips are down, the Mastercraftsman grey was in the firing line this time, right on the hammer of Lim’s Rhythm (Alan Munro) who was leading the charge.
“I was a bit disappointed after I lost the earlier race for James. We had every chance, but he found one better,” said Placais.
“I really wanted to make up for it on this one, and luckily we won. I think the key to the win tonight was his better start.
“I’ve never ridden him before, only in trackwork, but I saw his past races, and he was a little dazed when the blindfold was taken off him just before the start – he stood still and missed the kick.
“Tonight, they took the blindfold off a few seconds before the start. He had more time to compose himself and he jumped on terms.
“We followed a lot closer. I always had the favourite (Foresto) on my inside, and he took a while to get out.
“At the 400m, I knew we would be in the mix because he was travelling so well. It’s also great that I have won my first race for the Oscar Racing Stable.”
Peters concurred with the jockey about the four-year-old gelding doing himself no favours when he was left with too much to do at most of his previous 10 starts.
“It’s the good start that helped him tonight. Olivier was able to get him in a more forward position,” said Peters.
“He had a few issues before. He gave them too much of a start.
“There was a fast tempo which also suited him and the horse won a nice race in the end.” -STC