Te Aroha visitor Back In A Flash carved her name into the history books as the inaugural winner of the rich Platinum Homes Taranaki Challenge (1400m) on Saturday.
Run under sweepstake-type conditions, similar to Australia’s The Everest but for horses who were still in maiden grade at the beginning of June, the $101,000 prize pool on offer attracted a field chock full of up and coming local talent.
With an exciting race predicted the event lived up to that billing with the majority of the field well in contention as heads turned for the run home.
A true pace in the early stages suited Back In A Flash who had settled well back from an outside barrier. Rider Andrew Calder began a sweeping run on the mare at the 600m mark with the Ekraar four-year-old looming into the reckoning at the top of the home straight.
Asked for her full effort she streaked clear in the final stages to hand her rivals a near on three length beating with the well-favoured English Gambler closing hard to snatch second from outsider Play The Field.
Co-trainer Gavin Opie, who prepares the mare with his father Keith, acknowledged the race had been the mare’s major target after she broke through on debut over 1200m back in June.
“We have had this on the radar since she had her first win at Te Teko,” he said.
“We didn’t want to announce our plans too early, but we thought she was pretty good.”
Opie admitted he had been confident of success once he saw his charge start to make her run as the field approached the final corner.
“She was going backwards at the 600m but when Andrew gave her a little niggle she picked up the bridle,” he said.
“When he got to the outside I thought we were in for a big shot.
“She delivered down the outside, so it was a good effort.
“This time next year she should be a really nice mare. It’s great for her owner who breeds just one horse a year so he is tickled pink.”