Makabar wins on the opening day of the Grand National and leads a double for his sire Swiss Ace.

Pictured \ Swiss Ace

Photo credit \ Lesley Warwick

Makabar Leads Off Swiss Ace Double

Makabar delivered a pleasant surprise for local trainers Michael and Matthew Pitman on the opening day of the Grand National meeting on Saturday.

The local father and son training combination hadn’t expected major success at Riccarton, but their son of Swiss Ace was having none of that and produced a determined finish to down the open sprinters over 1200 metres.

“I love to be proved wrong and love having horses race here on the big days,” Michael Pitman said.

He was bred by Westbury principal Gerry Harvey, as was the promising Hostwin Winbull who completed a double for Swiss Ace when he romped home by four lengths over 1050 metres in Macau.

Makabar settled toward the back of the field before angling into the clear at the top of the straight and the gelding rounded off strongly in the run home.

“I’m very pleased to have a winner and he loves wet tracks so he races through the winter and then spells,” Pitman said.

Makabar has now been successful on seven occasions during his lengthy career and is likely to back up in a lesser grade next Saturday.

“There’s a Rating 75 over 1200 metres on the last day for him,” Pitman said.

The eight-year-old was partnered by Tina Comignaghi, who produced a well-judged ride.

“He likes the chute and in most of his runs I’ve watched he’s come from the back,” she said.“Once he hit the front he was pretty genuine and tried very hard.”

Makabar was a graduate of Westbury Stud’s class of 2019 at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale at Karaka where he was purchased by Team Rogerson for $55,000.

He won twice from their Tuhikaramea stable before relocating south.

Makabar is a son of the Encosta De Lago mare Sierra Gold, who is out of the stakes winning Danehill mare Langness with the second dam the former champion Australian sprinter Isca, who was the dual Group 1 winner of the Newmarket Handicap and Lightning Stakes.

Sierra Gold has also produced the multiple winner and black type performer Red Sierra and produced a sister to Makabar last season and is in foal to El Roca.

Hostwin Winbull was bought by Kacy Fogden Racing for $45,000 at Karaka in 2021 placed in a Gold Coast trial before he relocated to Macau where he has four victories and a second from five appearances.

He is out of the More Than Ready mare Conferencia, whose dam Confer was a multiple stakes placegetter including a third in the G1 Flight Stakes, and she has an unraced Tarzino three-year colt, a juvenile Telperion filly and is in foal to El Roca.