Nearly four on day for Marsh

Mr Trump and Danielle Johnson proving a popular winner at Rotorua today.

Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh got a bit more than he expected from the Rotorua meeting today and could have rounded the day off even better.

Marsh was represented in five races with his seven starters and picked up three wins, two seconds, a sixth and a seventh. And, in fact, if it hadn’t been for the Hastings visitor Estefania downing his runner, Mediterranean Sea by a mere nose in the final event, he would have trained half the eight-race programme.

Marsh had some strong chances on paper going into the meeting, but wasn’t expecting to start his winning streak in the third event, the Motion Entertainment 2YO despite having two runners, Van Irving and Socialights.

Both fillies had shown some trials form, Van Irving finishing third in the most recent of her three trials (at Cambridge last month), and Socialights being placed in both her heats, the latest at Taupo last month, but the pair were at long odds with punters. Van Irving, a daughter of Rip Van Winkle, was allowed to start at odds of 28/1 and Socialights slightly better at almost 19/1.

Marsh was expecting both horses to benefit from their debut performances and commented that he would have been happy to see them both hitting the line nicely, though not expecting either to win.

However, Van Irving exceeded expectations and came up trumps, scoring by a half-length from Willpower, while Socialights wound up less than two lengths away in seventh placing.

Ridden by Danielle Johnson, Van Irving flew the barrier but was allowed to settle midfield and was pushed along across the top and appeared flat on the home turn before picking up and producing a good finish near the inner.

“She’ll be better over more ground, but she actually showed a good turn of foot today,” said Marsh. “The plan is to get a couple of runs into her and set her up for her three-year-old campaign. She can go to the fillies 1400-metre stakes race at Counties.
Hardly over the celebrations of winning with Van Irving (his first runner for the China Horse Club Racing partnership), Marsh was back in the winner’s circle after Mr Trump prevailed in the next event, the Mills Reef Winery 3YO, for owners, Karaka Agistment Centre Ltd.

Also ridden by Johnson, Mr Trump was given a nice run tracking his stablemate Master Park before going up to eyeball him at the 400 metres. He took over turning for home then stretched out and fought to the line to score by a long neck from another Cambridge runner, the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Abacus, while Master Park weakened to sixth.

A son of Reliable Man, Mr Trump had picked up a win and a third from four trials and was taken south to Waipukurau for his debut with Marsh expecting a first-up win, but on the day he ran into the smart Lincoln Raider and had to settle for second, a length and three-quarters away.

“He went to Waipukurau for an easy kill, but the winner looks well above average,” said Marsh. “It was a good win today and he’s going to be even better up over 2000 metres-plus when he matures a bit more.”

Danielle Johnson returning to scale on Zappeur, the third winner for her and Stephen Marsh at Rotorua today.

Punters were on Mr Trump, backing him into a $3 favourite, and there was also plenty of support for Marsh’s other winner, Zappeur, who started as a $5.10 third favourite when taking the NZB Insurance Pearl Series 1230m.

Zappeur thoroughly deserved her maiden win, having shown good trials form early this season before being placed third in her first two starts on heavy 10 tracks.

She was put aside after her third start, when sixth at Te Awamutu last November, and resumed with a trials third before a creditable third behind Avant at Matamata recently.

On the strength of that Matamata performance she was expected to be right in the finish today, though the Shaune Ritchie-trained Zenvo (sixth) was backed into a hot favourite at $2.80 and the Baker and Forsman-trained Colleraine was second elect at $4.60.

Again it was Johnson at her best as she got Zappeur home at the head of the field. Johnson pushed Zappeur along in the early stages to settle sixth on the inner and worked her up across the top to be in a challenging position wide out on straightening for the run home.

Zappeur led with 200 metres to run then held on well in a nail-biting finish to beat the Trina Riddell-trained Savette by a nose while Coleraine completed the Cambridge trifecta.

An Australian-bred four-year-old daughter of Beneteau and Zanngana, Zappeur was bought for $A34,000 as a yearling by Go Racing and races under the Go Racing Zin Zan Syndicate.

A race earlier Marsh had watched his $18 roughie Darci Palmer, another Go Racing runner, produce a solid effort for second, a length and a quarter behind the Shaune Ritchie-trained White Shield.

It was a highly encouraging debut effort from Darci Palmer, who had shown gradual improvement from his three trials, with his most recent effort being a close third at Cambridge a couple of weeks earlier.

The three-year-old son of Darci Brahma looks a next-up winner for the Marsh stable and so does Mediterranean Sea, a Per Incanto four-year-old who was having his fourth start. He had good trials form and had been placed fourth on debut at Ruakaka last July when doing plenty wrong.

With blinkers on for the first time and a step up to 1400 metres, Mediterranean Sea showed plenty of fight to go down so narrowly to Estefania, while the Shane Crawford-trained Verbalizer also looked a next-up winner when charging home for a close third, just a head further afield.