Memorable day for Hughes and Collett

Classcoroc (Alysha Collett) holding on determinedly to win the Hastings feature. (Photo: Race Images,PN).

Classcoroc (Alysha Collett) holding on determinedly to win the Hastings feature. (Photo: Race Images,PN).


Cambridge trainer Graeme Hughes will never forget the early 21st present he gave Pukekohe jockey Alysha Collett.

Collett, who turns 21 tomorrow, was entrusted with the ride on the Hughes-trained and part-owned Classcoroc in the Gr. 3 $70,000 Winning Edge Presentations Hawke’s Bay Gold Cup at Hastings today and she seized the opportunity with a take-no-prisoners ride.

After sharing the pace for most of the 2200-metre trip, Collett let Classcoroc slip clear early in the run home and they were clear halfway down the straight. Collett kept her going to last by a half-length from the dead-heaters Rose Of Virginia and Mako.

While Collett was thrilled to enjoy the Cup win on the eve of her birthday, it was an even bigger thrill for Hughes as it was his first black-type win and easily his most important training success.

Classcoroc, who started at odds of better than 36/1, had two black-type placings to her credit and Hughes headed to Hastings hoping to top it off with Group Three success. But he admitted it was going to be a tough assignment from her wide draw.

“This is her last start this season and we want to win a black-type race with her,” said Hughes on the eve of the upset win.

The dream result was realised and Hughes will benefit from the black print on Classcoroc’s pedigree page as he also races her with his wife, Renee, and Ross Baker.

Collett had ridden Classcoroc for two placings from three previous rides, including a third in a Thames Cup, and she was thrilled to see the under-rated mare have her day in the sun.

The Hawke’s Bay Gold Cup is the second Cup won by Classcoroc, having picked up last year’s Northland Cup at Dargaville, and today she progressed from being “ a good bread and butter pony,” as Hughes describes her.

Classcoroc took her record to five wins and 16 placings and had shown her talent when runner-up to Benzini in the Listed Marks Ewen & Associates Kaimai Stakes at Matamata last February, beating home the Group III Waikato Times Gold Cup winner Surpass.

Classcoroc has helped make this the most successful season for Hughes, who has also picked up three wins with Busta, to take his career tally as a trainer to 18.

Hughes, who has also tried his hand as an amateur rider without any joy, is the son of Bryn Hughes, who enjoyed many thrills with his good stayer Dundee Road.