A brilliant tactical ride by Aaron Kuru paved the way for Hastings visitor Perry Mason to take out the feature event at Te Aroha on Saturday, the Bridges Insurance Services Pakuranga Hunt Cup (4200m).
Sent out favourite for the race after winning a restricted open event at the same venue ten days earlier, Perry Mason never looked in danger of defeat as Kuru saved every inch of ground along the rail for the entire 4200m journey.
Sent to the front with 1000m to run, Perry Mason shook off the challenge of Zamora with two fences left to jump. Kuru nursed his charge over the remaining obstacles before comfortably holding out the late charge of Old Countess who stormed home from last in the early running.
Trainer Paul Nelson had some concerns prior to the race about his charge coping with the very heavy nature of the Te Aroha track but they came to nothing as Kuru picked the correct path throughout the contest.
“That was very very good,” he said.
“We thought he might have to get out a bit but he got that far in he got on the better ground and seemed to miss all the chopped-up stuff.”
Nelson is in two minds about returning to the venue in a fortnight to contest the Irvines Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) with his charge, who has now won three of his 5 starts over the bigger fences.
“I don’t know about the Northern as it’s another third as long as this one,” he said.
“He has to get home and get over this and then we will deal with that.”
Kuru admitted he hadn’t followed pre-race instructions regarding his positioning during the race.
“The plan was to be out wide for the last round,” he said.
“Going down the back the last time there was untouched ground on the inside of the steeples so I just tried to get to that and things worked out well.
“I didn’t plan to put the acid on like we did but that was how the race panned out. I just had to put the foot down and carry on.
“His form says he will get the Northern trip so we should have a crack at it.”
The race proved a further triumph for Grangewilliam Stud stallion Zed who sired the quinella in the event. - NZ Racing Desk
Video replay: Perry Mason wins the Pakuranga Hunt Cup at Te Aroha