The Hassler surprises James

The Hassler (Vinnie Colgan) getting the better of fellow Cambridge galloper Nailed It (inner) at Pukekohe today.

The Hassler (Vinnie Colgan) getting the better of fellow Cambridge galloper Nailed It (inner) at Pukekohe today.

A Roger James -trained runner was confidently predicted to win the main race at Pukekohe today, but it was a stablemate who upstaged the favourite.

James produced unbeaten mare Romantic Maid as the warm favourite in the Schlaepfer Shearing 1600, however she could only manage to run fourth as stablemate The Hassler produced a gritty effort to score his third victory.

Given a break after finishing ninth in the Gr. 1 New Zealand Derby, The Hassler was expected by James to need the run, but he sat one out on a solid speed before outfinishing pacemaker Nailed It in a driving finish to win by a short neck.

“He had two weeks off after finishing ninth in the Derby and his record suggests he needs a wet track,” said James in a pre-race interview. “We’re getting him ready for a $100,000 2100-metre race at Ellerslie in a fortnight so we are hoping the tracks can soften before then.”

The Hassler’s form had been franked by the winning performance of Humidor in the Gr. 3 Manawatu Classic with The Hassler having beaten that runner at Te Rapa before finishing fifth in the Gr. 2 Avondale Guineas on route to his Derby effort.

Romantic Maid’s rider Michael McNab was far from disappointed with his charge’s run, noting that she was awkwardly away from her barrier and made good ground in the run home, suggesting she was ready for a middle- distance assignment.

– NZ Racing Desk