Hardy sprinter Amarula, pictured, returned to the scene of his biggest victory when he took out the open sprint at Hastings on Saturday.
The Peter McKay trained six-year-old caused a major upset as a three-year-old when successful in the 2015 edition of the Gr.2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m). The Thorn Park gelding has gone on to fashion an outstanding record with today’s victory over 1200m his tenth from just 34 career starts.
Having just the second run in his current campaign, Amarula was expected to show vast improvement from a lacklustre fresh-up effort at Ruakaka last weekend. So it proved as rider and part-owner Shaun McKay bounced him out nicely from an outside barrier to sit handy to the speed before issuing his challenge early in the run home.
Asked for a serious effort inside the final 200m, Amarula responded gamely to collar pacemaker Indecision just short of the winning post with Stratocaster finishing off nicely to snatch third.
“I think you could give his last start a miss as it was too short for him and he needed the run,” McKay said.
“He jumped good and sat outside the leader. When he’s there he’s got a good turn of foot.
“He’s definitely the stable pet so every time he wins it’s a big thrill.”
McKay’s father Peter was rapt with the effort as he praised the tenacity of his charge.
“He’s a tough horse and when he thinks he can win he really digs in deep,” he said.
“Last week they ran home in 33 seconds and left him to it but it cleaned him up nicely for today.
“We’re trying to get him ready for the last day here then have a crack at the weight-for-age down at Wellington.”
The Gr.3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) is one of the feature events at Hastings on October 6 with the Gr.1 Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) raced at Trentham on December 8.