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Vespa Speeds to Karaka Million Glory

Vespa Speeds to Karaka Million Glory

Young Otaki trainerJohno Benner captured the biggest win of his career with Vespa (NZ) (Elusive City) triumphant in the Res. Listed $1m Karaka Million (1200m) – New Zealand’s richest race – that sparked jubilant celebrations in the birdcage at Ellerslie.

On the same night last year, Benner and his owners John Norwood and Chris Rutten, came close to winning the million dollar feature with Touche (NZ) (Thorn Park) chasing home Ruud Awakening and Fantastic Honour to run third.

The trio returned a year later with Vespa who started as the race-favourite on the back of a great start to his career, winning two of his first four starts and running an unlucky third at his last start in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes at Ellerslie.

Leading rider Mark du Plessis bounced Vespa out from an inside gate to lead the field. On a rain affected track, du Plessis elected to stay hard against the rail and the pair had a fight on their hands as Riding Shotgun (NZ) (Iffraaj) emerged from the pack to challenge one off the rail.

Spellbinder Magical in Karaka 3YO Mile

The hugely talented filly Spellbinder (NZ) (O’Reilly) cast a spell over her rivals in the $100,000 Res. Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Insurance Karaka 3YO Mile (1600m) with a dominant victory in less than ideal weather conditions at Ellerslie.

Two fillies in the Karaka 3YO Mile appeared to be the two best horses in the race with Spellbinder and last start Group 2 Eight Carat Classic victor Hera (NZ) (O’Reilly) the only two horses in the field in single figures with the TAB.

An unfortunate turn of weather saw the Ellerslie Racecourse drenched with heavy rain leading into the running of the three-year-old feature race, but the Jason Bridgman trained filly has previously proven adept on rain affected tracks with a six-length win in the Listed Soliloquy Stakes at Ellerslie on slow ground in September.

Te Akau Racing’s stable rider Matthew Cameron positioned his mount in the trail behind his main competitor Hera and when he asked his filly for an effort she showed great acceleration on the soft ground to dash away from the field to win by three lengths. Hera, who was ridden by James McDonald, finished a comfortable second with Fast Dragon (Fastnet Rock) a further 2.3 lengths back in third.

Deane Martin Singing in the Karaka Stayers Cup

The inaugural $100,000 The Westbury Karaka Stayers Cup was run and won yesterday evening with Deane Martin (NZ) (Keeper) triumphant in the 2200m event at Ellerslie at the Karaka Million Twilight Meeting.

Trained by Bruce Wallace, the son of Keeper entered the race as a winner two starts ago at Te Rapa and had the services of star Australian jockey Tommy Berry.

Berry was at his very best on Deane Martin even after being posted wide early in the staying event. The pair were caught wide early in the race from barrier 13 and Berry elected to move forward to sit outside the leader as the field worked down the back straight.

The move proved to be a winning one as Deane Martin always appeared to be travelling the best at the top of the Ellerslie straight. When Berry asked his mount for an effort he responded and dashed away from the field to win by 1.5 lengths over Lion Red (NZ) (Fast ‘n’ Famous), who charged home along the rail, with Her to Eternity (NZ) (Pentire) a further half-a-length away in third.


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