(By John Jenkins)
Heavy track specialist Admiral got conditions to suit at Tauranga today and returned to his best form with an all the way win in the Zest Premier, a Rating 82 race over 1600m.
The Align seven-year-old was chalking up win number seven and each of those victories have been on heavy tracks. The Tauranga track was rated a heavy-11, with jockeys saying horses were making very hard work of it during the running.
Admiral’s trainer Stephen Ralph knew his charge would relish the conditions and was confident of a big performance following a last start sixth over 1400m on a dead-5 track at Ruakaka the previous Saturday.
“He went a good race at Ruakaka and we’ve just been waiting for a wet track for him and that’s what we got today,” Ralph said.
Four kilogram claiming apprentice Eilish McCall was entrusted with the ride on Admiral today and Ralph’s pre-race instructions were for her to go to the front and put a break on the opposition rounding the home turn.
McCall followed the instructions to the letter, keeping the horse clear of her rivals throughout. The challengers started to come inside the final 300m but Admiral still had plenty in reserve and surged clear again close to the line to win by 1-1/4 lengths from Verry Flash, with Divine Duke and Back In Flash both close up in third and fourth.
Admiral was recording his first success since taking out a Rating 85 race over 1560m on heavy-10 footing at Rotorua 13 months ago, but the gelding had recorded several good minor placings since then, including a fourth in the Listed Karaka Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe during the spring.