Hastings-based galloper Hunta Pence signed off his latest campaign on a winning note when he slogged through the Wanganui mud to capture the Steelform Roofing Group Foxton Cup (2040m) at Wanganui on Saturday.
The Patrick Campbell-trained six-year-old looked a forlorn winning hope halfway through Saturday’s contest as he was labouring in the testing Heavy11 track conditions, with rider Danielle Hirini struggling to keep him within striking distance of the pacemakers.
Angled to the outside and slightly better ground, the No Excuse Needed gelding found his second wind as Hirini set him out after Dr Watson who had surged to the lead on the point of the home turn. Hunta Pence maintained a solid gallop against the outside rail as he ground down Dr Watson in the concluding stages, with local galloper Overtheriver battling on gamely to take third.
Campbell was genuinely surprised with the victory after expecting his charge to tail out to the rear after seeing the way he was travelling in the run.
“I thought he was absolutely no chance at the 1000m as he could hardly pick his feet up,” Campbell said.
“We thought he could handle a heavy track but when I saw how bad it really was, I lost any confidence I had before the race.
“Danielle said she thought she was going to have to pull him up as he was going that badly but when she managed to get him out wide, he started to pick up for her.
“He is a good tough horse and I think he showed that at the end so it was a good effort to get up and win like that.”
Campbell will now send his charge for a well-earned spell before looking ahead to resuming with him in the spring.
“He was always going to the paddock, win, lose or draw on Saturday,” he said.
“He is starting to get into an awkward place in the weights now so we will have to think about how we place him next time in. He is at his best around the 2000m mark so that’s where we will be looking with him.”
Campbell is also looking forward to taking a winter break himself with Hunta Pence the last of his boutique team still in work at present.
“Once Hunta Pence goes to the paddock it will mean all of my team are out having a break,” he said.
“I think I might do the same and chase the sun for a couple of weeks and then we will be back to get ready for next season.” – NZ Racing Desk