Dancing Jess (inner), beats Sharp Princess (6), Eileen Dubh (white cap) and Lady Chaparral (hood), in a close finish to the Group III Breeders Stakes. www.raceimages.co.nz
Following some dire wet weather and a multitude of heavy track in New Zealand over the past few months, it seems a few trainers, and even jockeys, were targeting the meeting at Hawera on Saturday as a return to the fray.
It was certainly evident through the deeds of Foxton training partners David Haworth and Matt Dixon and their four winners, while Chris and Dick Bothwell who train at nearby Stratford landed three including the feature, the $80,000, Group III, Windsor Park Stud Taranaki Breeders Stakes, at weight-for-age for fillies and mares over 1400-metres, won by Dancing Jess (6 B. M. Danske – Bandicoot, by Zabeel), ridden by Noel Harris.
On paper what seemed like a very even contest proved to be exactly that as Harris brought Dancing Jess with a storming run through the middle, from well back in the capacity sixteen horse field, to exact a nose victory over Sharp Princess (Pins), with a head to group one winning filly Eileen Dubh (Storm Creek) in third, and a half-head to Lady Chapparral (High Chapparal), fourth.
Any one of the first four appeared a winning chance in the last few bounds.
Impressive winning over 1400m, and a mile, on slow footing previously, the group two placed Dancing Jess has been patiently handled to win six of her sixteen starts, while recording her fourth win from four starts in a fresh state provided evidence of the Bothwell ability to condition their horses ready to act.
While her trademark rousing finishes present heart in the mouth stuff for punters, she must be giving her South Taranaki farming breeder-owners Jim and Aggie Poole enormous thrills.
From ground shaping as though it would be just into the dead zone a day out from the meeting, overnight rain and showers on the day saw a Dead5 ease to Slow7 after four races, with riders taking their mounts progressively wider in search of better footing as the day unfolded.
Dancing Jess ran the 1400m in 1:27.80, returning tote odds of $8.10 & $3.00.
For Harris, who took a riding sabbatical in Mauritius during the NZ winter, two wins for the Bothwell stable registered him on the premiership board after a quiet start to the season, and his unmistakable riding style to get them home was a pleasing sight.
He commenced the day on the right note when scoring on the Bothwell-trained Blinding (3 B. F. Black Minnaloushe – Dazzling Walk, by Zabeel), doing the job emphatically fresh-up in the Anna Clement Racing Stables Maiden over 1200-metres.
The third Bothwell winner, Rangatira (7 Ch. G. Deputy Governor – Aggie Grey, by Standaan), was richly-deserved as he had been racing consistently in recent times. Ridden positively by Johnathon Parkes, near the pace, he took control when travelling best on the home turn and raced clear to win the South Taranaki Club Rating 70 over 2100-metres by four-and-a-half-lengths.