Torino stars in NZ debut

There were several punters’ pockets around Cambridge bulging after Torino made a New Zealand winning debut in the Modern Transport Engineering Premier at Te Rapa today.

Torino was having his first start from the Cambridge stable of Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young when he charged home to beat the hot favourite Heat Blast in the Rating 65 1200-metre event, scoring by a half length in the hands of Cambridge apprentice jockey Michael McNab.

Though at odds of better than 15/1, Torino was expected to be hard to beat by Busuttin, Young and McNab following some good trackwork. In fact he headed the Cambridge track report last Thursday when working very well.

“I’ve ridden him for a couple of weeks in work and he’s really impressed me,” said McNab. “We thought he’d be hard to beat.”

Torino, a son of Lonhro, was originally trained in Sydney by Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes and looked good when winning his debut at Wyong in January last year. However, in five further Australian starts he managed to do no better than a couple of placings, the latest being a fourth at Gosford last June before heading to New Zealand.

“He’s a well-bred horse and a lovely looking horse and we were happy to get him to train,” said Busuttin. “He came with a big reputation. His work has been top-class but he hadn’t been producing it on raceday. The change of environment has helped. He’s been working like Bonecrusher.”

Torino is one of six horses sent to Busuttin and Young by owners, the Karaka Agistment Centre Ltd, and holds a nomination for the Group I Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hastings on September 1. He has also been entered for the other two legs of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown.

“He’s a long way from it at this stage, but he looks as though he will get over a bit of ground,” said Busuttin. “We’ll look for a Rating 75 1400 metres for him next and just take the natural progression.”

Later on today’s programme a half-sister to Busuttin and Young’s Group I VRC Derby winner Sangster chimed in with her first Saturday victory in the Jo Bradley 2100 Premier.

Chapinta is also trained at Cambridge (by Craig Thornton) and was ridden by Tasha Collett, who has been based in the area for the past four months. Collett has ridden Chapinta in each of her three wins, the other two being midweek victories at Matamata.

Today Chapinta settled well back and stormed down the outside to score an impressive win, suggesting she could go on to stronger company without any fears.

“She’s laid-back and it seems to be her style to settle back where she’s happy,” said Collett. “She’s improved with every race and it’s good to see her measure up at a Saturday meeting.”