(By John Jenkins)
Diminutive jockey Robert Hannam probably had his arms stretched by a few centimetres during the running of today’s Listed $50,000 James Bull Rangitikei Gold Cup but it didn’t stop him from getting the big mare Hinerangi home first in the 1600m feature.
Hinerangi wanted to over-race in the early stages of the 1600m event and Hannam was hard-pressed trying to hold her back in a trailing position behind the leader Prosecco. He finally gave the mare a bit more rein passing the 700m peg and she quickly went up to challenge for the lead approaching the home turn.
Red Sierra, ridden by apprentice Charlotte O’Beirne, swooped up to join them and momentarily took the lead at the top of the home straight. But Hannam didn’t panic as he balanced his charge up before asking for a serious effort in the final 200m and she gained the upper-hand close to the post to score a valuable first black-type win at her 20th career start.
Having his first ride aboard the five-year-old mare, Hannam was delighted with the result as he joked about the imposing physical presence of his mount.
“She’s a monster isn’t she,” Hannam said.
“She races on pace and grinds really good and she only had 53kg on her back today.
“What I didn’t want to do was sit and sprint as I wanted to make it more of a staying mile.
“That’s what happened as there was only two of us in it at the end and she just out-toughed the other horse.”
Hinerangi brought up the 24th stakes win for the season for the Cambridge training partnership of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and also credited her Hunterville owners Christopher and Susanna Grace with a special success.
“It’s a wonderful thrill to win a race on your home track,” Grace said
“And to be lucky enough to win our neighbours sponsored race, as the Bull family have done a wonderful job over the years and put a lot into it (racing).
“The mare will be going out (for a spell) now, she’s got a bit of black-type and that’s what we want.”
Hinerangi is the daughter of Elusive City mare Hinemoa, who won four races in a limited career including the Listed Ag and Turf Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa. She hails from an extended family that includes Group 2 Wellington Cup (3200m) winner Graphic and brilliant sprinter Morar, who took out the 1992 Group 1 Telegraph Handicap (1200m).