Former New Zealand Cup winner Gobstopper revealed a new string to his bow when he made a successful debut over fences at Te Aroha on Sunday. The Andrew Campbell-trained galloper had carved out a handy career on the flat with his Group Three victory in the 2018 New Zealand Cup (3200m) the major highlight of his six wins before Sunday’s contest.
Some indifferent form since that New Zealand Cup triumph saw Campbell trial Gobstopper over fences to sharpen him up but he was reluctant to commit to a hurdle start until following the advice of jumps rider Emily Farr. Gobstopper responded with a polished display for Farr in the maiden 3100m event, jumping fluently near the pace throughout.
Farr sent Gobstopper to the lead at the 600m where he established a winning break on his rivals and although he made a mess of the last fence, he cruised home by a widening 13 lengths at the finish. “I know him inside and out as I ride him every day,” Farr said. “They (his owners) were ‘we don’t want to jump him, but we should jump him’ but I was like he jumps that good he will look after me. “Coming to the last I knew I was on the wrong leg but I thought if I sit still, he will bunny hop it and he did. “He doesn’t have the speed like he used to and he likes to sit and do his own thing so you can’t tell him what to do, you just have to sit there and ask him nicely. “As an older horse this gives him something different and with the speed he has, all you need to do is concentrate on jumping the fences.”
Campbell cut a relieved figure as his charge returned to the winner’s enclosure, admitting his heart was in his mouth at the last fence. “I was worried the whole way as jumping is not my favourite game,” Campbell said. “My heart was in my mouth at the last but it’s good when they win though. “Emily has done a lot of work with him and I take my hat off to her, she is a champion.”
By Tavistock out of handy racemare Bagalollies, Gobstopper is the younger brother of dual Hong Kong Horse of the Year, Werther who was trained by Campbell throughout his early career before being sold to Hong Kong interests after placing second in the 2015 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m).