Half the Rotorua card to Cambridge

Mystery Man (Sam Collett) breaking through for his first win at Rotorua today.

Mystery Man (Sam Collett) breaking through for his first win at Rotorua today.

Mystery Man started the ball rolling and Lamason finished it when Cambridge stables took half the programme at Rotorua today.

Mystery Man, a three-year-old Postponed gelding, quietly headed around to the start for the Rydges Hotel Rotorua 2200 (today’s first event), prancing like a horse preparing for a dressage competition, but when it came to action after the gates opened he switched on and turned into a winning race horse.

Rider Sam Collett bounced him out quickly and went straight to the lead and that’s where he stayed.

He was three lengths clear with a round to go and travelling nicely across the top. Even 100 metres out he was comfortably clear by a couple of lengths, but then Shonali, from the stable of Cambridge trainer Brendon Hawtin, made it a close call when he charged at Mystery Man on the line.

Mystery Man held on by a half-head to record his first win from four starts. He had shown promise for trainer Finbarr Leahy with two fourths in his first three starts, the latter one being at Hastings over 2000 metres on December 8.

Cambridge trainers Stephen Marsh and Tony Pike then had to settle for second and third placings respectively with Collay and Poppy Star in the second event, though both horses gave the warning they are ready to win next time.

Opie Bosson returning to scale on Ja Ja Binks at Rotorua today.

Opie Bosson returning to scale on Ja Ja Binks at Rotorua today.

Cambridge was back in the winner’s circle after the third event, the Te Ngae Mobil 1215, when Ja Binks, a four-year-old Falkirk mare, followed up a sound debut fourth behind the very promising Night’s Watch at Ellerslie on December 3. Night’s Watch went on to finish fourth to Hall Of Fame at Ellerslie yesterday.

Ja Binks had shown promise with two trials placings and a trials win before her Ellerslie debut and Opie Bosson climbed aboard today and guided her to a sound win.

Bosson settled her third on the inner, angled her off the fence with 500 metres to run and had her up three-wide turning for home. Ja Binks unwound strongly in the last 100 metres to score by three-quarters of a length from Maestro Max.

It was a popular win for Cambridge trainers Emma-Lee and David Browne as the couple also race the talented mare.

Marsh gained compensation for the defeat of Collay when his charge Highly Excessive won at $17 in the fourth event, the Burton Construction 1560.

Highly Excessive, a High Chaparral four-year-old gelding, was having his fourth start and had battled away for fifth then sixth in his two lead-up runs this campaign with Craig Grylls in the saddle both times.

Grylls was again aboard today and he gave Highly Excessive a nice run in the trail and moved him up across the top. After being second with 200 metres to run, Highly Excessive dug deep over the final stages to get in the deciding stride at the finish to beat the favourite Red Raven from Martin and Trevor Cruz’s Cambridge stable.

Gary Alton came up with the fourth win of the day for Cambridge when Lamason, a Keeper six-year-old which he part-owns, sent punters reeling when taking the Interislander 1560, the fifth race, at odds of almost 32/1.

Apprentice Ryan Elliot had Lamason in the trail and pushed him through with 300 metres to run and on to a head win over Hastings visitor The Bandito.

Lamason has now won twice from 26 starts and had been freshened and dropped back from 2000 metres by Alton after finishing second-last at Te Awamutu last month.