Rugged front-runner Call Me Royal provided his trainer Tarissa Mitchell with the perfect farewell to her northern training operation when he led all the way to win the opening event at Te Rapa on Saturday.
Handled superbly by last season’s leading rider, Samantha Collett, Call Me Royal dug deep to defy a late challenge from El Disparo after being annoyed in front by race favourite Youwantmore throughout the 2100m journey.
Mitchell, who will shortly relocate to her new Riccarton training base, admitted she had her doubts about her charge staving off his rivals when she saw Youwantmore up alongside Call Me Royal in the early stages.
“I was really worried about that horse (Youwantmore) with its light weight and I was thinking please don’t take us on,” she said.
“But he is the man and I just love this horse.”
A testing Trentham track put paid to Call Me Royal’s chances at his last run, but Mitchell was confident the improved surface at Te Rapa would be more to his liking.
“It was just too heavy at Trentham and he couldn’t get his big feet out of the ground,” she said.
“Lisa (Allpress) looked after him and pulled him up but today we came in with some real confidence.”
Collett, who was back from an end of season holiday to sort out her visa for an upcoming trip to Japan, was warm in her praise for her mount.
“It was a good tough effort as I thought the favourite may go up and annoy me with the light weight,” she said.
“I let my horse settle and once he gave himself a breather, he got into his second rhythm.
“He was really brave to the line carrying the top weight.”
The win took Call Me Royal’s record to seven wins from just 26 starts and over $130,000 in earnings. - NZ Racing Desk