A first for Marsh at Rotorua

Ugo Foscolo (Danielle Johnson) living up to expectations at Rotorua.

Ugo Foscolo (Danielle Johnson) living up to expectations at Rotorua.

There was something a bit special about Ugo Foscolo’s win at Rotorua yesterday for Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh.

Despite facing a track bordering on heavy, Ugo Foscolo was expected to win the Rydges Hotel Rotorua 2YO on debut after being unbeaten in three trials and he duly delivered, drawing clear of his rivals to win by three and a quarter lengths.

“That’s my first two-year-old winner of the season,” said Marsh. “Most of the horses I’ve been racing have been three-year-olds and older. I’ve had quite a few two-year-olds trialling, but not many racing.”

In fact, Ugo Foscolo, who credited Zacinto with his first win as a sire, is only the third two-year-old Marsh has started this season. The other two are Rosa Carolina and On The Move and both have showed plenty of talent.

Rosa Carolina, who races in the same Lib Petagna colours at Ugo Foscolo and Marsh’s Gr. 1 Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa, was runner-up on debut at Trentham behind the unbeaten Heroic Valour and her only other start resulted in a sixth in the Gr. 2 J. Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes. On The Move was placed in her first three of four starts, including a fourth in the Listed Murdoch Newell Stakes at Avondale.

Fresh from a career highlight of the $A1 million Australian Oaks win in Sydney, Marsh was thrilled to see Ugo Foscolo live up to his expectations yesterday. The bay gelding became Marsh’s 35th winner in New Zealand this term and took his stable’s local earnings to more than $888,000.

“I’ve got a big opinion of him and it was good to see him do that,” said Marsh. “He wasn’t comfortable in the ground but his class got him there.

“I’ll see how he comes through this run but more than likely he’ll have one more run then go out for a spell. There’s that two-year-old race (the Listed Hamilton Vet Services Juvenile) at Te Rapa on May 7 that we won with No More Tears last year.

“He’s my 2000 Guineas horse for Riccarton. He’ll go through races like the Hawke’s Bay Guineas beforehand. He’s definitely going to be a better three-year-old.”

Ugo Foscolo was ridden by Danielle Johnson, who felt he would have distanced his rivals by much more on a better surface.

“He wasn’t happy in that ground,” said Johnson. “He’s going to make a lovely three-year-old.”

Ugo Foscolo’s win carried on from a magical weekend for Wellingtonian Lib Petagna, who landed a Group One double at Randwick last Saturday with Sofia Rosa’s win in the Oaks being followed by Lucia Valentina’s impressive victory in the $A4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Ugo Foscolo was bought by Petagna’s racing manager Bruce Perry, for $50,000 at the National Yearling Sales at Karaka and is raced in a partnership with a couple of new owners to Marsh’s stable, prominent Wellington businessman Tony Muollo and Todd Bawden.

“Tony has raced lots of top horses and Todd has had success as an owner, too,” said Marsh. “It’s great to have them as part of the team. Tony was straight on the phone to me after the race. He was thrilled.”