Thornton and McDonald fans of Gok

Gok, a maiden graduate at Te Teko yesterday, was given the thumbs up by both his Cambridge trainer Craig Thornton and successful rider James McDonald.

The three-year-old Shinko King gelding was having just his second raceday start when he raced to an easy win in the Marquee Hire Whakatane 3YO.   After settling Gok at the back of the field, McDonald made his move nearing the 800 metres and was just off the pace turning for home. Gok then unleashed a solid finish to win by two lengths from Beverley Beck.

“He won quite well and he’ll improve a lot. He doesn’t know much yet,” said McDonald, fresh from a week’s holiday in Rarotonga.

Gok is one of several horses owner Jenny Grieve has with Thornton and he arrived in the stable earlier this year after making his debut for Hastings trainer John Bary on his home track last October. Gok missed the kick and ran on late for sixth in that 1400-metre event.

“He went straight to the races without a trial so it was a good effort,” said Thornton. “I’ve given him a trial and he improved with that. He’s still got a bit of growing to do and I think he’ll go on better ground. I like the horse.”

Gok was McDonald’s only winner at Te Teko and the high profile Cambridge jockey will ride again at Ruakaka on Saturday before flying to Hong Kong that evening.

“I’m riding in Hong Kong for three weeks then I’ll come back and work out what to do,” said McDonald. “I’ve got to decide between Aussie, Hong Kong and here. I’ve been offered some top rides.”

McDonald said the Rarotonga holiday was just what he needed to freshen up after a busy season which has seen him cross the Tasman on several occasions and also ride in Hong Kong.

“It was great to have the holiday and I would have liked to have stayed over there a bit longer,” said McDonald. “But this Hong Kong offer came up so I had to come back and get going again.”

Gok was one of five winners on the eight-race Te Teko programme for Cambridge stables. The other winners were Sir Amron, Black Attack, Life Of Reilly and Alt Control.

Sir Amron, ridden by Jason Jago, won in the absence of his trainer, Lee Somervell, who headed to Canada yesterday on holiday with his wife, Nell. The win was well-deserved as Sir Amron had run some encouraging races for owner Ada Parnwell.

Black Attack is making up for lost time and doing it in the style of horse with a bright future. The Storm Creek three-year-old produced a huge effort to win the New World Whakatane 1600, coming from last to storm on the scene inside the final 100 metres and draw clear to win by a length and a quarter.

Black Attack is trained at Cambridge by Ralph Manning and has now won a double, having preceded yesterday’s win with a similar effort to score over 1600 metres at Pukekohe. Before the breakthrough win, Black Attack had picked up three third placings and three fourths from eight starts.

 “He’s always shown ability, but he had a bad fall at the trials as a two-year-old and it took him a long time to come right,” said Manning.”He had breathing problems, but gradually it has come right and now he’s showing what he can do.”

Life Of Riley and Alt Control, the other two Cambridge winners, were ridden by the country’s leading rider Matt Cameron, who stretched his lead to six over his dogged opponent Lisa Allpress.

Life Of Reilly, trained by Stephen Marsh, was the favourite for the Golden Grain 1400 on the strength of two runs for two seconds (at Te Awamutu and Hastings) and he was simply a class above his rivals yesterday. When given more rein in the home straight Life Of Reilly scampered clear to win by four and a half lengths from Senna.

Alt Control was having his third start and he held out a late charge from Storming The Tower to score by a head for trainer Frank Ritchie in the Gartshore Construction 1600.