By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
It may have taken Deja Blue 26 starts to clear maiden ranks, but the consistent pacer did it in style at Ashburton on Thursday.
The Michael Cations-trained mare hummed off the gate to take an early lead for driver Terry Chmiel before handing up to Kerala Star heading into the home straight for the first time.
A lap later the daughter of Mach Three was able to take advantage of the passing lane to slingshot her rival and run away to a comfortable 4-1/2 length victory over Bolzano, with a further 1-1/2 lengths back to Kerala Star in third.
Deja Blue was a perennial bridesmaid heading into Thursday and Cations was delighted it was finally his mare’s turn to greet the judge.
“It was a long time coming,” Cations said. “She has been very consistent and was kicking the goal, but she did it well and truly today.
“I knew she was ready to go as good as she could go. She needed Rangiora (last start when finishing fourth) in hindsight but things were in her favour today, she had a good draw (6).”
While Deja Blue has finished runner-up on seven occasions, Cations said she has been unlucky on most occasions and has been met by some stiff opposition.
“She has been beaten by some short margins and her last two seconds at Addington were 1:57 mile rated,” he said.
“That’s what maidens have to do nowadays. You have got to be running times.
“Today’s time was 2:56, a few years ago your five and six win horses were running those times, but you have got to be that good to clear maidens now.”
Cations was also celebrating his first success as a trainer in seven years and he was over the moon to break that drought with his pride and joy.
“I haven’t stopped trying, I just haven’t had the luck,” he said.
“We have had a couple of nice ones and things have gone wrong and they haven’t been able to race.
“When you are only working a few that can set you back 12 months. Time can stretch out, that’s for sure.”
Cations said Deja Blue is a pleasure to train and he thinks she would have strung together several wins by now had it not been for a breathing issue.
“She is certainly good for me as a trainer,” he said. “She is not hard to train and does things right on race day. She has enough ability to put herself in races and be competitive in most of them.
“She is professional and she likes to get out there and race. That’s where she is the happiest, on the track.
“If she didn’t have the breathing issue she would be a touch better than what she is. But it is what it is.”
Cations is now looking forward to testing Deja Blue up a grade.
“I think she will get seven points for that win and go to 53,” he said. “I think on times she should be competitive for sure.