The Westbury Stud-bred and raced pair of Martell and Librarsi shut out allcomers to the finish of a tidy age group event over 1100 metres at Te Rapa on Saturday.
The former is a son of El Roca and the three-year-old came from the tail of the field to down the well-performed Reliable Man filly Librarsi with both runners sporting the familiar colours of owner Gerry Harvey.
Old Town Road also flew the El Roca flag proudly at Awapuni where the five-year-old lumped 60kg to give his Rating 83 rivals weight and a beating for the fifth win of his career.
Prepared by Lisa Latta for his former trainer Ian Wyeth, who also co-bred and part-owns the gelding, Old Town Road made the running and lifted strongly in the run home for rider Wiremu Pinn to race clear and win by 1.3l.
By contrast, Martell was slowly into stride and settled last before rider Jasmine Fawcett eased him around runners near the turn to corner widest.
The gelding ploughed strongly through the heavy conditions for the second win of his four-start career and at the expense of a gallant Librarsi.
“He’s a very handy horse and he loves the wet ground,” said trainer and former Group 1-winning jockey Jim Collett said.
“He was very unlucky first-up in this campaign as he didn’t get a lot of room in the run home, so there was a fair bit of confidence that he would improve on that.
“He won his maiden on a similar wet track at Rotorua, but I made a mistake running him there a month later on a very hard track as he just doesn’t cope that well when it is dry like that.
“We put him aside and let him get over that, while he really grew into himself at the same time.
“It is quite surprising that he does like it so wet, but that’s what we are going to strike for the next few months and it is good to have one who likes those conditions.”
Collett has yet to firm up future plans for Martell, but is confident he will continue to march through the grades.
“We might look for another race with similar conditions and maybe tip him out again and get him ready for the spring,” he said.
“Those spring tracks can be pretty wet as well and with the upside I can see in him I think he could get to a fairly good level.”
Martell is the first foal of the Makfi mare Myrcella, who was successful on four occasions, and she is a half-sister to the dual Group 2 winner and multiple Group 1 placegetter Fontelina.
A granddaughter of two-time elite level winner Electrique, Myrcella has an unraced juvenile El Roca filly, a yearling daughter of Telperion and last season produced another daughter of El Roca and is back in foal to the Westbury resident.
The Allan Sharrock-trained Librarsi was making her first appearance for five months after impressing during her last preparation with a series of strong efforts, including a runner-up finish in the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes.
“She’s already got black type for Gerry and the stud, she’ll be a pretty tidy Saturday filly through the winter,” Sharrock said.
Librarsi is out of the General Nediym mare Tennessee Love, who is a half-sister to the Group 1 Coolmore Classic winner Aloha and she is in turn the dam of the multiple Group 2 winner and Group 1 placegetter Libertini.
Tennessee Love has a yearling filly by El Roca and produced a daughter by Telperion last season and is now in foal to Reliable Man.