Ever Loyal booked his seat for an Australian autumn campaign with a comprehensive win in the Dunstan Feeds 1200 at Ellerslie today.
Second-up after a bold effort in the Gr. 3 Concorde Handicap behind subsequent Group One placegetter Ardrossan on Karaka Million night, Ever Loyal dominated his rivals over the same 1200-metre trip today.
From the inside gate, rider Michael McNab was able to secure a cosy trip for Ever Loyal tracking the pacemaker Rocanto. On the point of the turn McNab angled the Sebring gelding off the fence for a run between the leader and Santa Monica.
Ever Loyal soon had the situation in hand, bounding clear and maintaining a strong gallop to score by a length and half from Bisou Bisou, finishing strongly from back in the field. Rocanto stuck on bravely for third after having to be used up early to cross the field from a wide gate, just holding out Spring Heat who ran on wide out.
“That’s what I wanted to see, it was nice to see him put them away like that,” said winning trainer Tony Pike. “His owner Rob Ferguson lives in Sydney, so now he’s done that he can head across there for a race or two.
“There’s a Group Three race, the Liverpool City Cup over 1300 metres at Randwick early next month, that would suit him to start with.
“If he can take his form over there and get his rating up, I could easily see him as a lightweight prospect in a race like the Stradbroke up in Brisbane during the winter.”


Exciting two-year-old Whiskey Neat cemented his claim for the favourite's tag for the rich Listed Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) later this month when he led all the way to take out the Gr.3 Barneswood Farm Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie yesterday.
The Waikato Bloodstock purchase had set tongues wagging when he won by 10 lengths on debut at Otaki last month.
That victory left pundits wondering if he could replicate that sort of effort against a far stronger field in yesterday's Group Three feature.
Those questions were answered in emphatic fashion as the strapping Denman youngster dominated from the front throughout the contest before coasting home to down the previously unbeaten Aotea Lad and Exuberant in a slick 1.10.66 for the 1200m journey.

Despite getting a little wayward over the last 100m, Pike was pleased with Whiskey Neat's debut outing at the Ellerslie track under race-day conditions as he looks forward to the Karaka Million later this month.
"He got quite lost today off the bridle," he said. "It's obviously a lot stronger race today.
"Leith (Innes) rode him well, cuddled him up around the corner, but when he went for him it took him a while to work it out.
"He changed legs a couple of times and had a good look at the winning post, so he will obviously improve off that." The $42,000 first prize from the race will more than qualify Whiskey Neat for the Karaka Million with Pike happy to go into the $1 million juvenile feature on January 26 without another run for his charge. "He needed to win today to think you were a chance of winning the Karaka Million," he said.
"He has beaten some nice two-year-olds behind him.
"He'll improve a lot so we're looking forward to three and a half weeks from today.

Whiskey Neat dominates on debut

Whiskey Neat made a spectacular debut in the Vets On Riverbank 2YO at Otaki this afternoon, blowing his rivals away by 10 and a quarter lengths.
The Waikato Bloodstock yearling purchase had shown ability at the trials in the lead-up to today’s $22,500 race and was a strongly supported $1.30 favourite.
Ridden by Leith Innes for Cambridge trainer Tony Pike, Whiskey Neat went straight to the head of the five-horse field and never looked back.
Under minimal urging from Innes, Whiskey Neat changed gears in the straight and powered away from his outclassed rivals. He clocked 59.07 seconds for 1000 metres on the Dead5 track, beating runner-up Cinzento by almost two seconds.
“He was extremely impressive,” Pike told www.theinformant.co.nz. “He’d shown us plenty in his trackwork and his last trial was very good, so we were reasonably confident bringing him down here for his debut today, but funny things can sometimes happen with two-year-olds. It was really pleasing to see him go out and produce a performance like that.”
Whiskey Neat was a $220,000 purchase at Karaka Book 1 in January and is eligible for the Karaka Million.
“He’s owned in Hong Kong, but we were lucky enough to have the owner inform us after his last trial that he’d stay here for the time being with the Karaka Million in mind,” Pike said.
“So that’s the target, and some time in the next two or three weeks we’ll confirm our path between here and Ellerslie in late January.”

Rocanto’s rousing return fuels Group One hopes

Stephen Marsh believes Rocanto can be a serious Group One player this preparation.

The Cambridge trainer has high expectations of the five-year-old and a satisfying first-up victory in Tuesday’s Ideal Electrical Legrand 1200m at Ellerslie further boosted his confidence.

“It’s good to see him back and he should be a contender for all the major sprints,” Marsh said. “The Railway is going to be a nice race for him.”
The Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) on New Year’s Day will mark Rocanto’s return to the big time having twice placed at the elite level as a two-year-old in the Gr.1 Diamond Stakes (1200m) and in the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).
It hasn’t all been plain sailing since, but Marsh is optimistic that it will be from here on in.
“The writing was on the wall when he trialled,” he said referring to a 1000m heat win at Ruakaka last month. “Time has helped him and he seems the complete horse now. I really think he's in for a very good season.” 
Rocanto jumped cleanly from a potentially tricky gate on Tuesday in his first race day appearance for seven months to make the running under jockey Danielle Johnson.
The Waikato Bloodstock purchase was cruising on straightening and the topweight forged clear 250m from home and held out the late run of Yearn to win by a half-head with The Justice League a close third.
“I was a bit worried about the draw and the 59kg, but he’s earned it and he’s got the quality,” Marsh said. “On his trial and his work since I knew he’d go close with reasonable luck on his side.”

Ever Loyal shines in Zacinto Stakes

Sebring gelding Ever Loyal, bought for $240,000 at the 2016 Premier Sale by Waikato Bloodstock, stepped up to stakes level for the first time in Saturday’s $70,000 Listed Zacinto Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton and made an immediate black-type impact.

An easy maiden winner at Te Aroha 10 days earlier, the Tony Pike-trained gelding was unfazed by classier opposition on Saturday. Ridden by Jason Waddell, he burst through the inside to take the lead at the top of the straight and held on strongly to win by a length and a quarter.

Ever Loyal has now had four starts for two wins, a second and a fourth, earning $49,350 in prize-money for owner C M Wong.

From the family of Group 1 winners Special (Habituate) and Bomber Bill (Air de France), he was bred by SF Bloodstock LLC and was offered by Lyndhurst Farm at the Premier Sale.

Purchaser Waikato Bloodstock (Hong Kong)
Breeding Sebring – Miss Lucille
Sale Lot 409, 2016 Premier Sale, $240,000


Smart three-year-old Ever Loyal broke maiden ranks in fine style at Te Aroha on Wednesday after running into some well above average rivals at his first two starts.

The son of Sebring finished fourth on debut behind current Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) favourite Te Akau Shark. The strapping gelding was then second at Ruakaka to another highly-credentialed Te Akau Racing galloper in Embellish.


The Hong Kong Airlines Million Challenge enjoyed a smooth lift off at Happy Valley’s first fixture of the season last night, and it was Brave Legend that snared the series’ first win points in the Community Chest Cup Handicap (1200m).

Matthew Chadwick was the man in the plate, driving the Benno Yung-trained four-year-old wide down the home run for a rattling two and a quarter-length victory in the Class 3 trophy race, and collecting 15 points in the series. 


Waikato Bloodstock yearling purchase, Mongolian Khan, is the first horse in history to win ATC Australian Derby, New Zealand Derby and Caulfield Cup and has now been secured by Windsor Park Stud and will stand at the Cambridge nursery this spring.

New Zealand's Horse Of The Year and Champion 3YO, Mongolian Khan was a multiple Group One winner of eight races from 1400m to 2400m, winning in excess of $4 million in prizemoney and becoming the first horse since Bonecrusher, twenty nine years earlier, to win both the ATC Australian Derby and New Zealand Derby.


Waikato Bloodstock yearling purchase "The Centenary" (NZ) (Mastercraftsman) celebrated her first stakes success yesterday in the R250,000 Group 3 Yellowwood Handicap (1800m) at Turffontein.

Making her racing debut as a juvenile for trainer Ormond Ferraris, The Centenary resumed to racing as a three-year-old in Mike de Kock's stable where she won fresh up over 2000m. A winner of five races from 15 starts, The Centenary's wins have been from 1800m to 2600m.


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