Ardrossan proves he’s up to Gr.1 class

The handsome Ardrossan (Michael McNab) continuing his unbeaten New Zealand record with a dominant win in the Gr.3 Preferment @ Brighthill Farm Concorde Handicap at Ellerslie tonight.

Cambridge galloper Ardrossan proved he is Group One material with an authoritative win in the Gr.3 Preferment @ Brighthill Farm Concorde Handicap (1200m) at Ellerslie’s twilight meeting.

The four-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice remains unbeaten in four New Zealand starts after taking tonight’s feature sprint and the victory proved a huge thrill for all his connections, particularly his trainer Stephen Marsh and jockey Michael McNab.

“We think he’s really top class,’’ Marsh said. ‘’He was up against it today, but he jumped well, travelled beautifully and he won well.

‘’I’m rapt to get him back from Australia. It was a shame to lose him, but nice to get him back. He’s the coolest horse.’’

Marsh has always held Ardrossan in high regard and the colt lived up to expectations in his two juvenile starts, winning effortlessly on debut at Pukekohe in April 2017 then following up with another impressive win in a Listed 1100m at Te Rapa the next month.

Ardrossan was then sent to Australia in a bid to enhance his value for a possible stud career, but he failed to show his true class in three starts and he returned to Marsh late last year.

He resumed with a decisive win at Te Aroha over 1200m earlier this month and took the big step up as a rating 72 horse to take on some of the country’s top sprinters in the Concorde, including the Gr.1 Sistema Railway winner Santa Monica and runner-up Princess Kereru.

He jumped from barrier 12 in the 14-horse field and Marsh said pre-race it was up to McNab to work the oracle to get Ardrossan into a good position and the Gr.1 Telegraph Handicap-winning jockey certainly played his part.

McNab pressed forward from his wide draw to have Ardrossan sitting second and cruising nearing the home turn. He then let him slide forward to challenge on the turn and had him clear with 200m to run and in no danger of defeat.

The Tony Pike-trained Ever Loyal, having his first race for 12 months, produced a big late run for second to get to three-quarters of a length of Ardrossan.

McNab repeated the delight he showed when winning the Telegraph on Enzo’s Lad a week ago after passing the winning post on Ardrossan.

“He’s a sharp colt, a stunning animal,’’ McNab said.

Ardrossan races in the colours of Waikato Stud and its principal Mark Chittick was equally excited by the win, though trying not to show it as much as McNab.

‘’It’s very exciting and a huge night to have a colt win so well,’’ Chittick said.

“He had his mishaps in Australia and they certainly affected his career. He came back with a few heart problems.

“Chris Phillips, our vet, has done a wonderful job with him and, although it is early days yet, he looks like he is going to get back to his best.

“He is an outstanding young man Chris, he’s a specialist in every field. He left no stone unturned.

‘’He went world-wide to find the best treatment he could and the lady he worked with said this treatment either worked or it didn’t. There’s no in-between. It looks like it worked.

‘’Our aim now is a nice Group One here and if that falls into place then we’ll go back to Australia with him at his best.”

Though nothing is confirmed, Marsh has already pencilled-in the Gr.1 $200,000 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on February 9 as a likely mission for Ardrossan.