Antics before classy win

Maraini displaying a lot of raw talent as he races to victory in the hands of Craig Grylls at Matamata today.

Maraini displaying a lot of raw talent as he races to victory in the hands of Craig Grylls at Matamata today.

Maraini’s pre-race antics were a concern, but there was no cause for worry during the race as he lived up to expectations in his debut at Matamata today.

As a half-brother by Exceed And Excel to the smart Hasselhoof, Maraini had a lot to live up to on breeding when he stepped out in the Fairview Motors 1200.

That fact alone assured him of much interest, but coupled with his pedigree was his trials form, which included two wins and a third to his subsequent stakes-winning stablemate Honey Rider (Gr.3 Gold Trail Stakes).

The first of those trials wins was at Te Awamutu last April and the other, at Ruakaka earlier this month, saw him start an odds-on favourite today.

But punters who backed him into a $1.90 had some anxious moments when he put on an act in the birdcage, proving a handful for his strapper and rider Craig Grylls.

With the assistance of the Clerk of the Course, Maraini finally got into action and settled into stride as he made his way to the barrier, leaving his connections and supporters breathing a sigh of relief.

“He’s always been a handful,” said co-trainer Andrew Forsman. “He’s still a colt and he was thinking about it today.”

From the time the barriers opened, there was no doubt Maraini was the horse you wanted to be on.

Grylls gave him a beautiful run tracking the leader Soloman and had him ready to pounce rounding the home turn. Though Soloman fought back bravely, Maraini asserted his superiority and drew clear inside the last 100 metres to win by a length and three-quarters.

“He’s never really been asked to flatten out like that so it took him a little while to get through his gears, but he figured it out,” said Forsman. “He’s got a lot of ability.

“We’ll take him along quietly and get him a bit of confidence and a bit of practice. He’s still a work in progress.

“Hopefully he keeps his mind on the job and keeps going forward. A better track will suit him more.”

Grylls was also aboard Maraini in both his trials wins and he wasn’t surprised by the manner in which he won today.

“He’s a real good horse,” said Grylls. “He did a bit wrong when he won at the Ruakaka trials and he was suited better to the left-handed track today.

“We got a nice possie outside the leader and he relaxed good and travelled sweetly. Once we turned for home he changed legs and balanced up and let down good.”

Maraini races in Lib Petagna’s well-known JML Bloodstock colours and is owned by the Wellington businessman along with three partners.

He was bought by Petagna’s bloodstock manager Bruce Perry from Premier Yearling Sale last year for $120,000, at a time when his half-brother Hasselhoof hadn’t raced. A year earlier Donna Logan had paid $14,000 for Hasselhoof from the Select Yearling Sale.

Between the time of Maraini’s purchase and his debut, Hasselhoof grabbed the headlines, being unbeaten in his first six starts, culminating in the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie.

Hasselhoof’s winning streak ended with a couple of placings during an Australian campaign and he shaped up to Group One company last start when third in the Livamol Classic.

Maraini became the sixth winner for his dam, Alpine, with the first being Vercors (Listed Wairarapa Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes; third Gr.2 Cambridge JC Travis Stakes and the fifth, Hasselhoof.

Alpine is a Zabeel half-sister to the Gr.1 Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes winner Lord Ted, who went on to run second in the Gr. 1 Adelaide Cup and fourth in the Gr.1 South Australian Derby.

This is part of James and Annie Sarten’s successful “Belle” family with Alpine’s dam being the Te Aroha Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes winner Melody Belle (10 wins).