No Group One Joy For Locals

The much anticipated first Group One race of the season proved a fizzer for local horses.
The Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hastings was the target of four local hopes.
Leading the charge was last start Foxbridge Plate winner, Fleur de Lune.
Also entered were Innovation, He’s Remarkable and Khemosabi.
It wasn’t to be the day for the locals though with Fleur de Lune’s 8th placing the best effort of the group.
The eventual winner was talented Matamata galloper Ocean Park.
Aided by a superb no panic ride by Lisa Allpress, Ocean Park burst through late to beat Xanadu and Just An Excuse.
Race favourite Mufhasa was a game fourth.
Trained by Gary Hennessy, Ocean Park settled back in the field in behind a wall of horses.
“I thought I’d wait and hope the gaps appeared down the straight” said a delighted Lisa Allpress afterwards.
Ocean Park accelerated quickly when the gap did appear about 150m from the finish.
“He’s got a great turn of foot, and he’ll improve with that run too” said Allpress.
The effort of runner up Xanadu was full of merit too.
She stormed home late to grab second and a big win looks assured for her this season.
Just An Excuse surprised many with his third placing at $13 a place.
All honours through were with Ocean Park.
 
While the Makfi result wasn’t the best for the locals, the results at Tauranga on Saturday made up for that disappointment.
Cambridge trained  horses won four of the eight races carded.
Dubai Dan, a lightly raced son of Danroad, created a good impression when taking out his maiden victory.
Trained by Toni Croon, Dubai Dan dashed clear of his rivals for Mark Sweeney.
“He was travelling like a winner all the way…..he’s got a bright future” said Sweeney later.
 
The Peter Blick owned and trained Little Alfie Brown made a welcome return to the Winner’s Circle on Saturday.
His previous victory was in October of last year, but Little Alfie Brown was dominant on Saturday, eventually winning by two lengths.
Blick was quick to praise regular rider Lynsey Satherley after the win.
“Lynsey rode a lovely race and it’s great to see him back in winning form ” said Blick.
 
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman training partnership scored with Mackadoo over 1400m.
The stable also produced the quinella with Swarmi holding on for second behind his stablemate.
Mackadoo also signalled the return to the NZ riders’ list of Andrew Calder.
The talented rider has spent most of the past couple of years riding in Macau.
He will be a welcome addition to our jockey’s ranks over the coming months.
 
As if to prove that, Calder also picked up another win aboard Civics Rock, trained by Ralph Manning.
Civics Rock has fashioned an outstanding record with this latest win his 6th from just 18 starts.
With three second placings and two thirds, his consistency cannot be questioned.
Civics Rock dashed home to win by a half length from pacemaker Danrose and race favourite Sweet Suitor.
He is one of the most under rated and most improved gallopers in commission. 
 
Finally this Saturday sees the Great Northerns run at Ellerslie.
This is one of my favourite race days every year and the gruelling steeplechase is a real gut buster.
As I said last week, I think both winners from last year, Southern Countess and Ima Heroine can win again this year.
We’ll see what sort of judge I am this Saturday!
 
Catch you next week.
 
Cheers
 
George