Way In to give Ritchie first Karaka Million bid

Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie is set to step into new territory with Way In, a narrow winner of the NZB Insurance Pearl Series 2YO at Ellerslie today.

Way In crossed the line locked in battle with Riding Shotgun, who had come through on the inside with a strong late charge, and the initial call from the judge, John Craig, declared the finish close with the initial call going the way of Riding Shotgun with the possibility of a dead-heat.

But a close study of the photo-finish saw the official final decision go to Way In by a nose to give the daughter of Thewayyouare her second win from five starts.

Way In was already assured of a start in the Karaka Million, being fourth on the qualifying list, and today’s win saw him to second spot behind Jackofall for the $1 million feature.

“She’ll be my first Karaka Million runner,” said Ritchie, whose wife, Alison, shares in the ownership of the promising filly.

Way In won on debut at Avondale last October and was placed in her next two starts, including a second in the Listed Murdoch Newell Stakes at Pukekohe, before hanging badly when tried left-handed at Te Rapa. She finished second-last on that occasion.

“She had a few jarring-up issues and I’ve got to give credit to my wife, foreman and staff for getting her here,” said Ritchie. “They’ve been watering her legs and getting her muscles right. It’s been a team effort.”

Way In races was ridden today by Danielle Johnson, who settled her back and swept her up into the action early in the run home. She then hit the lead, heading off Massale, who had trailed and challenged on the inside on straightening.

Riding Shotgun appeared on the scene late when burst through outside Massale after being among the tailenders on the home turn and did his best to win but was denied by Way In.

“It was a tough effort being out in front a long way out and she gawked a bit,” said Johnson. “Once Leith (Innes of Riding Shotgun) came inside me I thought he had got it but my filly put her nose out and held on.”

Riding Shotgun is also assured of a start in the Karaka Million at Ellerslie on January 26, while Coachella is just outside the 14 limit despite finishing third.