Top three-year-old Sharp ‘N’ Smart earned honour in defeat when he went close to a memorable first-up victory in the G1 Thorndon Mile at Trentham.
Bred by Gerry Harvey, who remains in the son of Redwood’s ownership group, he hadn’t raced for three months when he stepped out against the older horses on a testing Heavy 10 surface.
He was quickly into stride to settle in second spot, but jockey Ryan Elliot was niggling at the gelding before the turn.
Sharp ‘N’ Smart looked to be labouring before rallying in gallant fashion to finish runner-up and less than a length off another top-flight victory.
Co-trainer Graeme Rogerson is now eyeing off another crack at older opposition in the G1 Herbie Dyke Stakes before a G1 New Zealand Derby tilt.
“As long as everything goes right, our aim is to then run in the AJC Derby and back him up in the Queen Elizabeth,” he said.
“Hopefully, we will be going back to Melbourne in the spring with him for the Cups.”
Sharp ‘N’ Smart showed his quality during his spring campaign when he claimed the G3 Gloaming Stakes and G1 Spring Champion Stakes in Sydney and was spelled after finishing runner-up in the G1 VRC Derby.
He was to have resumed in the G2 Wellington Guineas before Rogerson had to delay the gelding’s return by a fortnight due to a stone bruise and was forced to pitch him into the Thorndon and no admirers were lost with his effort to run second.
There was a similar outcome at Sha Tin for another Westbury homebred with Tuchel finishing runner-up in the Hong Kong Classic Mile.
A previous lower grade winner when resuming off a break, he handled a significant rise in class in fine fashion for trainer John Size.
Also a son of Redwood, Tuchel has fashioned the smart record of four victories and three placings from his nine appearances.
Laneway furthers record
Westbury Stud graduate Laneway Flirting continued on her winning way with a dominant on-pace performance at Trentham to crush her Rating 75 rivals over 1200 metres.
The Stephen Marsh-prepared daughter of El Roca had also been successful on the opening day of the Wellington Cup carnival in apprentice Tayla Mitchell’s hands and the combination continued their top run of form.
“Tayla is on fire and she is riding with a lot of confidence,” stable foreman Rhys Mildon said.
Laneway Flirting coasted along in second spot and romped home by 2.3l after taking control at the top of the straight.
“She is in the best form of her life, Stephen has got her going along beautifully,” Mildon said.
“She had no heavy track form, but she’s just going so well.”
Marsh purchased Laneway Flirting for $29,000 from Westbury’s New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale draft in 2020.
She is a daughter of the Mossman mare Flustered, who has produced six winners and delivered a filly by El Roca last season before returning to the son of Fastnet Rock.
The dam is out of a half-sister to the multiple Group 2 winners Snowland and Portillo.
Frontrunner oh so brave
The steely side of Wannabe ‘N’ Paris’ nature was evident when the daughter of Reliable Man prevailed in the Marlborough Cup at Riccarton.
Trained by Paul Harris, the stakes-winning mare had been narrowly denied at her previous appearance when the closest of seconds in the Gore Cup and she deservedly went one better.
Rider Brandon May allowed her to stride freely to a clear early lead before steadying the tempo down the back straight.
Wannabe ‘N’ Paris was in front on straightening before she was clearly headed, but rallied strongly to claim her eighth career victory, including success in the Listed Riverton Cup.
She is a daughter of the North American-bred Bernstein mare Wannabe Queen, who is from the family of Imperador, who was a Group 1 winner in both Argentina and the United States.