In what has proved to be a tumultuous and tragic week for Cambridge Stud owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay, the victory of two-year-old filly Taroni and then underrated mare Pretty To Sea in the Listed Hallmark Stud Handicap (1200m) at Ellerslie has brought a small measure of joy to the couple.
The Lindsay’s had the misfortune to lose their outstanding stallion Tavistock during the week which cast a pall across the entire stud before personal tragedy struck overnight with the sudden passing of Brendan Lindsay’s sister, Sonya Harper.
The close knit New Zealand racing community breathed a sigh of relief when Taroni saluted in the familiar black and gold Lindsay racing colours in the second race on the Ellerslie programme and when Pretty To Sea caused a minor boil-over in the feature sprint on the card there was hugs and smiles all around for the Cambridge couple.
Unlucky at her previous start when slow away from the barriers at Te Rapa, Pretty To Sea enjoyed a copybook ride from ex-pat kiwi Mick Dee who had her travelling sweetly in midfield throughout, albeit a long way off tearaway pacemaker Mumms Jewel.
With a wall of horses across the track at the 200m mark it was Dee and Pretty To Sea who dashed to the lead with favourite Avantage in hot pursuit. The pair set down to a tight tussle with the Ocean Park mare gaining the upper hand to win by a head.
Trainer Stephen Marsh was delighted with the victory given the circumstances it was gained in.
“When she got out of the gates better, I thought that’s a bit of us, although she lost a lot of ground and ended up in an awkward spot,” he said.
“Obviously the Lindsay’s have got something on their shoulders today as they have had such a bad run.
“If there was one horse that could win today, I wanted this for Brendan and Jo.
“It’s great to see them get a couple of winners as I’m really proud to have one win in their colours and I hope this can cheer them up a little bit.”
Marsh has his eyes on a Group One prize with the mare who did her early racing in Australia, as she holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) back at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
“It was a really good, genuine speed and I was happy when I saw Mick pull her to the outside,” Marsh said.
“I thought she was going to get a fair bit of it and she got the thick end of the prize.
“She’s in it (the Railway) so why wouldn’t you have a crack at it.”
Bred by Waikato Stud, Pretty To Sea has now won four of her 20 starts with three of those coming since her return to New Zealand just over twelve months ago. She is the fourth foal of Pins mare Pretty and hails from the extended family of multiple Group One winners Vision And Power and Glamour Puss.