Kisses breaks drought

Kisses (Trudy Thornton) a well-deserved and overdue win at Ruakaka yesterday. (Photo: Kenton Wright, Race Images).

Kisses (Trudy Thornton) a well-deserved and overdue win at Ruakaka yesterday. (Photo: Kenton Wright, Race Images).

Small fish were sweet for the connections of honest Cambridge mare Kisses at Ruakaka yesterday.

Kisses broke a 16-month drought when she won the $25,000 Harcourts Whangarei Open after being cuddled up by regular rider Trudy Thornton until the final stages.

Trainers Mark Fraser-Campin and Chris Campin had considered the $200,000 Gr. 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hastings yesterday for Kisses, but decided instead of the softer option and her win has put her on track for another black-type mission.

“She’s going down to Hastings for the open sprint on the last day,” said Thornton, referring to the Gr. 3 Spring Sprint on October 3. “She should be a good chance, too. She’s a lot stronger this year and she’ll take improvement from yesterday’s race.”

Kisses hadn’t won since taking the Listed Christchurch Casino Easter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton in April 2014 but in nine times between then and yesterday’s victory she had performed well in strong company, including five placings.

She was second fresh-up on the second day of last year’s Hawkes Bay Carnival when narrowly beaten by Whosyourmaster then finished sixth in the Spring Sprint before being beaten a short head by Puccini in the Gr. 3 TBS Thompson Handicap at Trentham.

She was also placed when third in the Gr. 2 NRM Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Avondale and beaten a short head when splitting Sakhee’s Soldier and Puccini in the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie.

In her close defeats she hit the front and was caught late and Thornton wasn’t about to let that happen fresh-up yesterday. Despite ranging up as the winner early in the run home, Thornton sat quietly as long as she could before asking Kisses for a final sprint, which resulted in a half-length win.

It was a confidence-boosting win for Kisses and she may have a lead-up to the Spring Sprint with a second day start at Hastings.