Impressive maiden winner Vigor Winner defied a wide barrier to win Saturday’s $80,000 Platinum Homes Taranaki Summer Challenge (1400m) at New Plymouth and looks destined for stakes company.
Prepared at Cambridge by Lauren Brennan, the $3 favourite put a smile on the face of punters, winning connections and the syndicate of slot owners who shared in the spoils of the unique sweepstake race.
The race was restricted to horses that were maiden gallopers on December 1, with prizemoney funded by slot-holders, modelled on the successful A$14 million Everest (1200m) in Sydney.
“He looked like he was a little bit keen early on and Troy (Harris) was trying to get in position from the wide gate (11), but he managed to get in a nice spot, fifth and one-out, so it was not bad once he settled into it and he has certainly got a great turn of foot,” Brennan said.
“Troy just said ‘what did you make of that?,’ with a big grin on his face. I think he was pretty impressed.
“We’ll probably have a go at stakes company next time, possibly the Wellington Guineas (Gr.2, 1400m).
Brennan said she is lucky to have Vigor Winner in her stable, with the Hong Kong-owned gelding previously earmarked to race in the Asian racing jurisdiction before failing several vet inspections.
“He was supposed to go up to Hong Kong, but he failed the vet a number of times,” she said.
“With his x-ray issues we have to space his races a bit and look after him.”
“He’s still racing a little bit greenly, but he has only had two starts and it will come in time.
“I think he will get a mile. I don’t know if he will get much more.”
Saturday’s winning prizemoney was shared by Vigor Winner’s Hong Kong owner Johnny Tsang and slot holders Woburn Farm Syndicate, who paid $4,500 to have a slot in the race.
Woburn Farm’s Adrian Stanley said he had brought together a group of friends from a WhatsApp racing chat group to buy the slot.
“There are ten of us and we divided it into ten percent shares and it’s been a lot of fun,” Stanley said. “The majority were on-course at Taranaki.
“We did a spreadsheet of all the horses that would be eligible for the race – maideners or one start winners after December 1 – and this horse caught our attention.
“They declined us originally as they wanted to go to Ellerslie first for the Mongolian Khan Trophy (Gr.3, 1200m), but once they drew wide in that race they scratched and came back to us.”
The win of Vigor Winner also provided a timely update for Stanley and his partner Hannah Kettlety, who just happen to be selling the three-year-old’s yearling half-sister next week under their Woburn Farm banner.
“I’ve had him on the farm, plus we’re selling his half-sister by Iffraaj over in Sydney next week, so with the inside knowledge we had and recognising his ability we tried to secure him for the slot,” Stanley said.
Based in Cambridge, Woburn Farm also enjoyed good results selling yearlings for both themselves and clients at Karaka last week.
“We had a clearance rate of 83 percent and averaged $180,000 and got some good returns for our owners,” Stanley said. “They were very happy. We cleared 100 percent of all of our pinhooks and made some good margins.” – NZ Racing Desk