Group One gamble pays off for Nickalls

Manawatu trainer Stephen Nickalls was overwhelmed with excitement after Chase (NZ) (Zed) ran home for third in the Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday. The son of Zed was coming up against some seasoned Group One horses including Aegon, Tiptronic, Prise De Fer, and Vername, and Nickalls admitted to feeling more hopeful than confident driving down to Trentham on Saturday morning. “When I went with Gary (Knight, part-owner) on the way down, we said we needed to beat one home and it wasn’t going to cost us…

Satisfying victory for talented Dragon Leap

Relief was an over-riding emotion in the Dragon Leap (Pierro) camp following the six-year-old’s stunning performance at Pukekohe Park to end a lengthy winless streak. The son of Pierro put a frustrating barren spell behind him in style on Saturday when he powered home from well back in the field to score over 1200m and confirm plans for tilts at Group One assignments. Dragon Leap posted his first victory since he landed the 2020 Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) with a withering finishing burst to claim the fourth win of his…

Kissinger impresses in Pakenham Cup victory

Progressive New Zealand-bred galloper Kissinger (NZ) (Tavistock) provided further evidence of his staying prowess when he produced a sustained home straight burst to comfortably score his first stakes success in Saturday’s Listed Pakenham Cup (2500m) Under the guidance of Damien Oliver, the lightly raced seven-year-old sat back in the early running before looping into contention approaching the home bend. Unleashed by Oliver at the 300m the son of Tavistock quickly mastered the front runner Nobel Heights (Fiorente) as he surged to an impressive two-length victory and into calculations for some…

Impendabelle proves too tough at Trentham

Despite a few moments of concern when placed in tight quarters at the top of the Trentham home straight, rugged filly Impendabelle (Impending) maintained her unbeaten record with a dogged performance to win the Gr.2 Mode Technology Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m). The Tony Pike-trained filly had been an impressive first up winner at the venue back in October and went in to her first black type challenge on Saturday as a warm $2 favourite. Her backers had plenty of reasons to worry however, as after beginning well, she drifted towards…

Kissinger out to continue successful run

Warrnambool galloper Kissinger (NZ) (Tavistock) is set to have his first shot at a stakes race when he makes the trip to Pakenham.  The Lindsey Smith-trained galloper is set to line up in the Listed Pakenham Cup (2500m) on Saturday coming off victories in two of his past three starts.  Kissinger scored at benchmark 70 level at Bendigo on October 2 while his most win came in benchmark 84 grade at Cranbourne on November 12.  Between the victories at Bendigo and Cranbourne was a narrow second at Caulfield on the middle day of the Caulfield Cup Carnival when Port Phillip got the bob in…

McDonald crowned world’s best

James McDonald has been crowned the best jockey in the world. After leading the Longines World’s Best Jockey rankings for much of the year, McDonald put a major gap on his rivals during the Melbourne spring carnival to ultimately win the award by 46 points over Ryan Moore with William Buick on third place. Points are awarded to riders who finish in the top three placings in the highest rating group 1 races throughout the world with McDonald winning nine of those races on five different horses. McDonald’s nine victories…

Moroney has a sound chance in Pakenham Cup

Trans-Tasman trainer Michael Moroney will have a two-pronged attack in Saturday’s Listed Pakenham Cup (2500m) courtesy of Sound and Milford. Moroney is on a fact-finding mission with Group One performer Milford, who has only run over 2400m on two occasions – runner-up in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) and 13th in the Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m). The Savabeel gelding heads into Saturday in winning form, having taken out the Gr.3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield last week, and Moroney said his performance this weekend will dictate his racing programme…

Richards happy with first Hong Kong double

Expat New Zealand trainer Jamie Richards was a happy man at Happy Valley on Wednesday after he recorded his first double since training in Hong Kong. Richards, 33, arrived in Hong Kong in April after a record-breaking career in New Zealand but, after a quiet start, the measured Kiwi had only one win from his first 51 starters.  Victories in the space of five races on Wednesday night by Tronic Mighty and Rattan Kingdom changed all that – and the flush of success was even more enjoyable with Richards’ parents…

Robson hoping to Light Up Riccarton again

Pam Robson is hoping for a lesser surprise but no lesser result when Light Up tackles Friday’s Riccarton Park Function Centre 2100. The Riccarton trainer produced Light Up for an epic boilover win on the final day of New Zealand Cup week on her home track last start, the Wandjina six-year-old gelding staving off his rivals under jockey Chris Johnson to pay $126 to win. “I didn’t back him but then again I never do back my own horses,” Robson said. “I did think he was at false odds, though…