A pair of impressive trials performers from New Zealand were the stars of the show at Wednesday’s Sandown meeting, with lightly tried three-year-olds Cataracta and Gold Mag shaping as horses to follow following respective victories over 1200m.
Under a rails-hugging ride by premiership-leading jockey Craig Williams, Cataracta pounced late to defeat Can Star in the Graeme Dare Plate (1200m).
The performance underlined the talent of Cataracta, who backed up a narrow second placing at her first start to land maiden victory at start number two.
It was a milestone victory of sorts, with the three-year-old carrying the turquoise, black and white colours of new syndication company Harney Stone Racing.
Cataracta is the first horse for the Warrnambool-based group and many of those involved made the trip to Sandown and celebrated accordingly.
Stephen Harney said the daughter of Niagara was bought from New Zealand off the back of an impressive trial and said that was the model his company would work off initially.
"We want fillies who can get out over ground over time," Harney said.
"We got her from New Zealand, where she'd won her trial very impressively, by about three lengths eased up, and we put her on the market and within two weeks she was snapped up.
"We're currently circling the waters over in New Zealand, we've got a couple of big things going to happen over the next months, so fingers crossed we can launch them and be on our way.
"This is a great start, though."
Williams was again in the winners’ circle in the following race aboard highly-promising Savabeel gelding Gold Mag for David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig.
Three-year-old Gold Mag made it two dominant wins to start his career when he followed up his four-and-three-quarter-length debut victory at Bendigo with a five-length win in the 1200-metre Le Pine Funerals 3YO Handicap.
"He still didn't know anything about what he was doing, but he's got a big motor and plenty of raw ability," Williams said.
"He'll be winning more races, that's for sure."
Gold Mag is raced by his New Zealand breeders Peter Grieve and Barry Thomas and caught the eye when closing from the rear in a Cambridge trial in January, prompting a phone call to the owners from David Hayes. – NZ Racing Desk