It was a day for close finishes in the feature events at Trentham, so it was no surprise that the result of the day’s iconic two-mile feature would go right down to the wire.
In a truly run race it was lightweight contender Gorbachev who proved the toughest stayer on the day as he hauled in gritty South Island mare Dee And Gee in the final few strides to claim victory in the Gr.3 NZ Campus Of Innovation and Sport Wellington Cup (3200m).
Dee And Gee, who was trying to provide the South Island with their second major prize on the day after Enzo’s Lad had taken out the Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m), shot to the front with 700m to run and said catch me if you can.
Gorbachev, who had enjoyed a perfect trail throughout, was the first to answer that challenge as rider Ryan Elliot sent him out after the southerner. The pair set down to it over the final stages with Gorbachev putting his head in front where it mattered to deny Dee And Gee by a nose with Prince Jabeel finishing well to snatch third from Mental Telepathy.
Trainer Bryce Newman was playing it calm in the aftermath of the victory despite it being the Bulls-based horseman’s biggest success.
“It’s okay isn’t it,” he said.
“There’s been a long story behind Gorbachev, but it’s been a good ride so far.
“This is definitely a highlight as I don’t train many, I only have two or three in work.
“I pre-train everyone else’s, so to see this now for us is great.
“I like to think I don’t get nervous doing this and I have it under control, but that last 100m, I almost got excited there.”
Newman had received the horse to train after the untimely passing of Awapuni horseman Tony Kaye and had battled hard to get the Gorky Park five-year-old to fulfil his promise.
“He started with Tony Kaye and came to us as a bit of a problem horse,” he said.
“It’s all water under the bridge now as we just trained him on the farm and tried to do different stuff with him.
“We always laugh as he was the village idiot and wouldn’t gallop properly on the track, he would end in the drains and he was a funny horse.
“There was no malice to him, just a bit of an idiot.”
Newman also paid tribute to the ride of apprentice Elliott who had stuck with the horse after finishing fifth on him at Awapuni in the Manawatu Cup Prelude (2000m).
“It was a great ride,” Newman said.
“Ryan stuck with me, I said to him if he was going to ride him today (Awapuni) you have to stick with me for the Cup and he has.”
The victory took Gorbachev’s career record to 4 wins from 29 starts for stakes earnings past the $223,000 mark. – NZ Racing Desk