Johnathan Parkes has had many memorable wins throughout his riding career, but his victory aboard Chase at Otaki on Thursday would feature right up there sentimentally.
The Central Districts jockey, who has a close connection with the name, had been wanting to ride the Group One performer for some time and finally got his chance in the Central Districts Trainers’ Association (1600m).
The son of Zed was slow away out of the gates and quickly found himself in a significant deficit behind his opposition. He had to live up to his name and chase down the pack, which he achieved down the backstraight.
Parkes had to keep his charge up to the mark and the pair still had all but one of their rivals in front of them when turning for home. Parkes picked a path between the pack and Chase was able to slowly reel in the front-runners and score a head victory over pacemaker Sagunto.
Trainer Stephen Nickalls was rapt with the win and was full of praise for Parkes’ ride.
“Johnathan has rung me over the last couple of years to try and ride him and it just has never quite worked out,” Nickalls said.
“He had a very good mate called Chase, who passed away, and he has always wanted to ride the horse. The fact that he could get a win like that was pretty special and he never stopped trying.”
Chase was fresh-up on Thursday, having last raced when last in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings last month, and Nickalls had been pleased with his work ahead of his return.
“After the Livamol he popped a stone bruise out. Whether that was affecting him then I don’t know,” he said.
“His last few track gallops he had to carry me and there is a bit of weight difference between me and Parksy, and he went well.”
The victory was a big thrill for Nickalls and his family, with Chase taking pride of place at their Rangiotu property.
“Gary (Knight), my father-in-law, who part-owns him with myself went down and it was a big thrill for the whole family,” Nickalls said.
“He is my daughter’s horse, she goes out and catches him and brings him in at night. He is a real family pet and he has given us so many thrills.”
An elite-level assignment now awaits Chase, with a tilt at the Gr.1 TAB Classic (1600m) at Trentham next week on the cards if the wet weather stays around.
“We will see what the weather does, the sting out of the track obviously suits him and slows a couple of those fast ones down on a really good track,” Nickalls said.
“If the rain hangs around then we will look at Wellington, there is the TAB Classic there, which he was third in last year.”