Evergreen galloper Sampson proved that age is just a number when he gave his younger rivals a solid beating in Saturday’s Listed Gallagher Marton Cup (2200m).
The nine-year-old gelding has been a regular fixture in the major staying races over several years and was rewarded when he launched an irresistible finishing burst to capture the Awapuni feature.
Unlucky at his previous start in the Gr.3 Manawatu Cup (2200m), the Howie Matthews-trained stayer received a dream run on the fence for rider Johnathan Parkes and proved too strong in the closing stages for pacemaker China Star and Jacksstar.
Matthews had expressed confidence in his charge’s chances before the race and was sporting a wide grin when accepting congratulations after the race.
“It’s amazing, he won well,” he said.
“His work this week has been fantastic. He’s been up a long time, but he just keeps giving and giving.
“I take my hat off to Johnathan as he looked like he was panicking swinging for home, but that little gap came, and it shows you when your luck is there, you get the run and you’re home.
“Let’s hope he can produce that in the Wellington Cup.”
Matthews is looking forward to tackling the Gr.3 NZ Campus for Innovation & Sport Wellington Cup (3200m) with Sampson, a race he placed second in last year after finishing third in 2016.
“He’s an old boy but he’ll keep going,” he said.
“As long as he wants to get up and go, I’ll be there for him.”
Sampson is raced by Matthew’s wife Lorraine and Mrs JL Street and has won ten of his 61 career starts, along with 13 placings for over $405,000 in stakes earnings. Amongst his 10 wins are the Gr.2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m) and Gr.3 Trentham Stakes (2100m).
Sampson is now rated an $8 third favourite in the TAB Fixed Odds market for the Wellington Cup behind current favourite Excalibur ($6). – NZ Racing Desk