Veyron rules supreme

It was scripted as a race between eight-time Group One winner Mufhasa and last-start Telegraph Handicap winner Guiseppina, but nobody told Veyron.

The Cambridge galloper upstaged the two glamour gallopers to register his second Group One win in the $200,000 Waikato Draught Sprint at Te Rapa today and with Leith Innes in the saddle he did it in the style of a horse with further Group One glory ahead.

Ten months after winning the Group I Land Pride Easter Handicap at Ellerslie in the hands of Rogan Norvall, Veyron outgunned a very brave Mufhasa in the final stages, drawing clear in the shadows of the winning post to provide trainer Linda Laing with a special thrill.

Though it wasn’t Laing’s first Group One success, the win had special meaning because Laing had called Te Rapa racecourse her home track for so many years, having grown up nearby at stables on Sunshine Avenue, where her father, Royce Dowling, trained with much success before shifting to the Tauwhare area.

“This means a lot to me,” said Laing. “It’s unbelievable.  All I told Leith was to try not to get blocked in and sit behind Mufhasa.”

What Laing didn’t expect was Mufhasa being trapped three-wide in fifth or sixth spot, but Innes had Veyron right behind him and when the pressure came on in the home straight it was obvious Veyron was going to be Mufhasa’s biggest threat.

Mufhasa had worked to the lead on straightening while Guiseppina, who had been tardy away, was sweeping up wide out with Fazzle, but going better than all of them was Veyron, who was quickly at Mufhasa’s girth.

Laing had said before the race she would be privileged to see Veyron run second or third behind Mufhasa so you can imagine the thrill she got when the stable star triumphed.

Being part of the big occasion were Laing’s sons, Ryan and Danny, while thoughts of Laing’s late husband, Martin “Lumpy” Laing, were rekindled after the win. Lumpy loved Veyron and it would have been a special day indeed for the likeable character.

Veyron, or Jethro as he is known around the stables, has now won 11 of his 18 starts and he is unbeaten at 1400 metres.

But what about the training feat of Laing. It was one of the standout efforts to bring the son of Thorn Park back from finishing second to Shez Sinsational in the 2000 metres Group I Zabeel Classic on Boxing Day to
master such a superstar as Mufhasa.

Laing is one of the country’s most under-rated trainers and now she has a chance of back-to-back Group One triumphs as Veyron will head to Otaki for the Haunui Farm Group One WFA Classic in a fortnight.

Mark Hills has been promised the ride on Veyron in the Otaki feature as a reward for his help with Veyron and other Laing horses during the absence of the injured Norvall.