Different outcome but still a winning home

Nancho Lass (centre) splitting the initial winner, Ngatira Gold (inner) and Just Got Home at Ellerslie today.

Nancho Lass (centre) splitting the initial winner, Ngatira Gold (inner) and Just Got Home at Ellerslie today.

A relegation in the Harrison Lane Hurdle at Ellerslie today left Cambridge horseman Craig Thornton with mixed feelings.

As the field past the winning post the Thornton-trained Nancho Lass was in the runner-up berth, a neck from the winner, Ngatira Gold, who is prepared by his partner, Samantha Logan, and just a short neck away in third placing was the Rudy Liefting-trained Just Got Home.

However, there was little time for Logan to enjoy her win with Ngatira Gold as interference in the run from the last fence by her charge resulted in the siren being sounded. Protests from the connections of the second and third placegetters were lodged against Ngatira Gold.

What had looked a brilliant ride from visiting jockey Richard Cully, saving ground on the inside to put Ngatira Gold in a winning position, turned sour as his charge hung outwards and hampered both Nancho Lass and Just Got Home, despite Cully trying to straighten him and using his whip in his right hand.

The Judicial panel agreed both Nancho Lass and Just Got Home had their chances affected enough to warrant a change of placings.

Thornton was philosophical with the outcome of the protest, obviously delighted to win but disappointed for Logan.

“I’m definitely pleased to get the win, especially for my owners, but to have it go against Samantha isn’t how you would want it to go,” Thornton told NZ Racing Desk.

“That’s racing, although I do think her horse is a massive chance in the Great Northern in a fortnight so I hope that can go in her favour then.”

Thornton was keen on Nancho Lass’ chances when track conditions improved dramatically during the week resulting in the race being run on a Slow 9 surface.

“My mare loves the better ground and I said to Charlie (rider Charlie Studd) that it would definitely work for us and against some of those better fancied runners,” said Thornton. “She is a lovely jumper, very good in the air and has really come to it this season.

“There is some doubt she can get the Northern trip but if the weather stays good then we will take our chance in it.”

Nancho Lass has now won three times over fences, plus once on the flat, and two starts earlier she had finished second over hurdles at Te Aroha behind none other than Ngatira Gold.

There was always a good chance of a Cambridge celebration after the Harrison Lane Hurdle with half the 10 runners being from the district, including the favourite, Raisafuasho, one of two runners for Ann Browne, the other being Hunters Creek (who finished last of the eight finishers).

However, a crash at the second fence put Raisafuasho put out of contention and the field was skirted around the fence and fallen rider Emily Farr on the last round. Farr was taken to hospital for observation and fortunately escaped serious injury.

Cambridge’s other representative in the event, D’Llaro, finished sixth, just over 16 lengths from the winner.