John and Karen Parsons were caught by surprise with the latest milestone in their training careers.

When Sitarist, a Road To Rock mare part-owned by Karen Parsons, won the open 2200m at Ashburton last Wednesday she took the prizemoney tally for the Balcairn-based couple beyond $1 million for the season.

It’s just the second time the Parsons have eclipsed the $1 million barrier. The previous occasion was in the 2012-13 season when the star of their stable Final Touch picked up three Group 1 wins – the Captain Cook Stakes (1600m), the Telegraph (1200m) and the Waikato Draught Sprint (1400m) – and went on to land the New Zealand Champion Sprinter Award.

A phone call from their friend, Levin trainer Sylvia Kay, alerted them to their $1 million achievement.

“Sylvia rang to congratulate us and that’s the first we realised we’d done it,” Karen Parsons said.

“It was a real surprise because when we did it last time we had Final Touch going and good horses like her to take north for the bigger races. But this season we haven’t had those sort of horses to travel so we’ve done it from just racing around the South Island.”

One of the rare trips north was to Te Aroha last winter with the jumper Delacroix, who won and also ran third in the Waikato Hunt Cup Steeplechase (4250m).

“We’ve had a nice enough team this season, but had no real standouts like Final Touch,” Parsons said. “I suppose Kiwi Ida and Residential have been the best, but they’ve done all their racing down this way.”

Kiwi Ida, a last-start winner at Wingatui in late May, took her record to 10 wins this season and was responsible for one of the Parsons’ two black type wins when taking the Group 3 Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton last November. The other black type victory came via the recently retired Residential in the Group 3 South Island Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton last March.