Classy customer Vernanme races to victory at Pukekohe Photo: Race Images – Kenton Wright
The Stephen Marsh and Danielle Johnson combination enjoyed a big day out at Pukekohe on Sunday with a winning treble that was highlighted by the victory of Vernanme in the Listed Haunui Farm
Karaka Classic (1600m).
The Marsh stable has had a steady start to the season with just the five winners to date off the back of a record year that saw the Cambridge operation finish third on the National Trainer’s Premiership ladder with 97 victories.
Darci Palmer kicked the day off well when Johnson guided him home in the fourth event on the card before promising stayer Yatima scored fresh-up over 1600m in race six.
Punters were keen on the winning chances of four-year-old O’Reilly entire Vernanme in the main event of the day after he produced an eye-catching run for second behind Mac Attacka at Ruakaka late last
Group One placed behind Madison County in the Levin Classic (1600m) during his three-year-old campaign, Vernanme has furnished into an imposing specimen over his winter break and lived up to those good looks with a sustained burst of speed over the final 300m on Sunday as he held out the stern challenges of Concert Hall and Fiscal Fantasy to record his first stakes victory and just second win from ten career starts.
“It’s quite funny really, just his second career victory for a horse like him,” Marsh said.
“I was saying at the 600m just sit a bit longer, don’t go too early, as he was travelling beautifully.
“He’s that sort of horse as he buttons off a little bit but you wanted to be on him a fair way out.”
Marsh will now lift his sights with the Kevin Hickman and Vern Trillo bred and owned galloper as he sets him for a tilt at the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (1600m) at Hastings in a fortnight.
It will provide a mouth-watering clash with wonder mare Melody Belle as she attempts to become the first horse to take out the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown after her wins in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m)
and Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) on the first two days of the Bostock New Zealand Spring Carnival.
“He will be off to the Livamol now for sure,” Marsh said.
“He’s only second up today and he looks a picture so there is no reason why he can’t go on to bigger and better things.
“We’ve given him a good spell and he’s come back better, so he is a Cups horse in the making.”
Johnson was taken by the ease of the win after enjoying an armchair ride on the race favourite.
“It’s pretty easy when they race like that,” she said.
“He’s a good horse and I know he’d only won a maiden mile before today but he’s put his hand up today.
“I wanted to sit on him as long as possible and although I saw Concert Hall coming on his outside, I never thought we were in trouble as he has fought and found when he has seen her.”
Vernanme is out of the five-race winner Bohemian Blues and is a half-brother to multiple Group One winner Shamrocker and Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m) winner Rock Diva.