A masterclass from rider Chris Johnson paved the way for progressive galloper Dark Princess to secure victory over a talented line-up in Saturday’s Hastings Heart Of The Hawke’s Bay Mile (1600m).
The Jeff Lynds trained five-year-old came in to the race off the back of a short spell following a tidy run for fourth in the Interprovincial Challenge (1600m) at New Plymouth in August.
The lightly raced Cape Blanco mare had won twice on heavy tracks during the winter, with some expecting the Dead4 footing at Hastings to be a touch too good for her liking.
That theory was quickly dispelled as Johnson saved every inch of ground throughout before weaving a path inside runners in the home straight to issue a strong challenge that carried Dark Princess to a length and a half victory over race favourite, Mongolian Marshal.
“I got back as they wanted her ridden back beyond midfield,” Johnson said.
“I was lucky I was following one of the best jockeys and found a nice path through where she finished it off well.
“She’s a very nice horse who feels like she will get more than a mile, so she could be a very good stayer in the making.”
Lynds echoed those sentiments when discussing the future prospects of his charge.
“It was a good effort and very pleasing,” he said.
“She’s on the way up and might get a trip over the ditch one day. She hasn’t got up to her forte yet, which will be over ground, so we’re just making her as a horse.
“It’s pleasing to come out on a track like this and see what she can do.”
Lynds indicated the mare, who was a $46,000 purchase from the Cambridge Stud draft at Karaka in 2015, would be set for the Gr.3 Thompson Handicap (1600m) at Trentham on October 27 as her next assignment.
The victory provided Johnson with the first leg of a raceday double as he guided hot favourite Savvy Coup to victory in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) one race later. – NZ Racing Desk