Wow! What a ride Rogan

Rogan Norvall brought back memories of some of the magical weight-for-age rides of legendary jockeys when stealing the Group I Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie today with Veyron.

The late Grenville Hughes was rated as a tactician, particularly when it came to weight-for-age races, often outfoxing his rival riders. And there have been other great tactical riders over the years, right through from the early days as the legendary Hector Gray.

Those old greats would have looked down with pride as they watched Norvall’s ride on his favourite horse unfold perfectly in the 2000-metre feature.

In a pre-race plan with Veyron’s astute trainer Linda Laing, Norvall completely dictated the terms in the Zabeel Classic and turned the tables on the hotpot Shez Sinsational. In fact, the tactics put paid to any chance Shez Sinsational had of beating Veyron, the Cambridge Jockey Club’s Horse Of The Year for the past season.

Norvall shook Veyron up from his inside draw to work to the lead, then continued to steady him in front, causing the rivals to be stacked up. And with nobody keen to push on for the lead, Norvall played a tactical game in front.

Norvall refused to go on Veyron, even when the challengers swooped up turning for home, and it wasn’t until the 300 metres that he released the brakes. It was then quickly evident nothing was going to beat Veyron and he surged clear to score by almost three lengths from Shez Sinsational, who came from last without looking a winning prospect.

“I stoked him up early and he pulled a lot going out of the straight, but then when they left me alone in front he came back to me,” said Norvall. “His work coming into the race had been phenomenal and the plan was to hold him up as long as I could, He’s a great horse and Linda has done a fantastic job with him.”

Veyron had been beaten a length and a half by Shez Sinsational in last year’s Zabeel Classic and it gave Laing great satisfaction to turn the result around.

“It was a magical ride,” said Laing. “We’d planned to ride him like that and it’s been a great result. I’ll freshen him now and go for the Waikato Draught Sprint again, then maybe look at Sydney in the autumn.”

Veyron won last season’s Group I Waikato Draught Sprint when beating Mufhasa then went on to capture the Haunui Farm Group One WFA at Otaki with both wins recorded during Norvall’s absence with injury.

Norvall had lodged his first Group I win on Veyron in the 2011 Easter Handicap and he returned from injury to win the same event last April on him.

Veyron now has five Group One wins to his credit and there’s more in store.

Yes, Boxing Day 2012 certainly belonged to Veyron, Norvall, Laing and the horse’s owner-breeders Alistair and Isabel Barker.