Northland trainers Kenny Rae and Krystal Williams had their patience rewarded in more ways than one with a triumphant end to Sunday’s Cromwell Cup meeting.
The father-daughter team trekked south from their Ruakaka base and had eight horses entered across the two-day meeting on Friday and Sunday. A solitary third placing was the best result from their first six runners, but they turned it around in style with back-to-back wins in the last two races including the $40,000 Positive Signs and Print Cromwell Cup (2030m).
“Fair to say that was a pretty good way to end the day,” Rae said.
The feature race was won by The Buffer (NZ) (Reliable Man), a six-year-old gelding in the form of his life. The son of Reliable Man collected his fourth win from his last five starts with a commanding front-running performance, leading all the way in the hands of Michael McNab and kicking powerfully at the top of the straight.
King Of The Dance charged home out wide to provide a late scare, but The Buffer held on by a head.
The Cromwell Cup was the seventh win of a 48-start career for The Buffer, who was bought by Rae for $25,000 as a yearling at Karaka in 2018. He has now earned over $143,000 in stakes.
“It’s taken him a few years and almost 50 starts, but he’s finally turned into a real genuine racehorse,” Rae said. “Michael McNab got off him at Riccarton in his last start and said he could be very good if he ever learned how to be a racehorse, but he just over-races too much. It seems like the key is not to fight him, because that just makes it worse.
“He’s won four of his last five now, so he’s going as well as he’s ever gone in his life. We targeted this race quite a long time ago now, so his previous win, which was in mid-October, feels more like six months ago than six weeks. But it’s good that we made it here in the end and pulled it off.
“When I bought this horse at Karaka, his breeder Erana Shattock told me that none of the mare’s progeny had gone past a mile. But, being by Reliable Man, I’d bought him hoping he might be a Derby horse. That didn’t work out, but maybe it’s starting to finally pay off now.
“We’ll look at the Kumara Nuggets (1810m) in early January now. Richard Bishop owns half of this horse, he’s in his 80s and it’s a race he’s always wanted to win.”
A half-sister to The Buffer is set to go through the ring at Karaka 2023, with a Staphanos filly being offered by Anistay Lodge as Lot 1073 in Book 2.
The second leg of Sunday’s stable double was delivered by Vegas Strip (NZ) (Shocking), who picked up the fourth win of her 16-start career in the $30,000 Property Brokers Dunedin Rating 75 (1400m).
“She’s a lovely mare, and she won really well today,” Rae said. “She’s actually a close relative to Winx – her dam Operavega is a half-sister to Winx’s dam Vegas Showgirl. She ain’t no Winx, but she’s Winx to me. She’s a pretty valuable broodmare now.
“She might have a week or so off and then target the Timaru Stakes (Listed, 1600m) on December 28. I think she’s good enough for those sorts of races, but it just depends how she’s come through this. She’s been up right through the winter, running at those meetings at Ruakaka.
“We lined her up in the Valachi Downs (Gr.3, 1400m) during the carnival at Riccarton, but she wasn’t quite ready for that level yet. I think she’ll get there in time.” Vegas Strip was bred by Totara Park Stud, who share ownership of the daughter of Shocking with Mandy and Matt Brown’s Ngapuke Racing.