Saturday got off to a disappointing start for Go Racing, but a six-year-old in the form of his life turned things around with a brilliant performance in the Group 3 White Robe Lodge (1600m) at Wingatui.
The prominent syndicators’ blue, white and red silks had been expected to feature in stakes races at both New Zealand venues on Saturday, with exciting filly Miss Ella among the favourites for the Listed FastTrack Insurance Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth. But the abandonment of that meeting has thrown her Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) campaign into disarray.
It was up to Hasabro to turn Go Racing’s fortunes around in the White Robe Lodge, and the -111.11 favourite delivered in style with a superb come-from-behind win.
“It was certainly an up-and-down day for us with the disappointment around Miss Ella, but Hasabro was hugely impressive,” Go Racing manager Albert Bosma said. “To be fair, considering the weight-for-age conditions and how well off he was at the weights, the race did look like it was at his mercy. But it was a big thrill to see him win the way he did.”
Ridden by Jacob Lowry, Hasabro’s hot favouritism looked in jeopardy within the first few strides of the race as he missed the start badly and settled in a distant second-last down the back of the Wingatui track.
But he began to improve his position coming down the side of the track and was within striking distance at the home turn, when Lowry brought him to the outside and released the brakes.
Despite doing a few things wrong through the final 300 metres, the Andrew Carston-trained Hasabro produced a classy turn of foot and swept past his rivals to score with ease. He’s Got Power finished a length and a half behind him in second, with Exchange another half-length away in third.
Lowry, a grandson of White Robe Lodge founder Brian Anderton, stood up in the saddle in a jubilant salute after winning the race named in honour of his family.
“It was a very good performance after missing the start quite badly, and he also raced greenly in the straight,” Bosma said. “To still clear out and win so easily was very impressive.”
Bred by Waikato Stud in partnership with Isabelle O’Shea, Hasabro is by Savabeel out of Halloween. He is a full brother to Go Racing’s Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Hasahalo, and a half-brother to the Group Three winners All Saints’ Eve and All Hallows’ Eve.
Bought by Go Racing for NZD$220,000 from Waikato Stud’s draft at the 2017 Premier Sale at Karaka, Hasabro has now won eight of his 37 starts and more than NZD$250,000 in stakes.
Four of those victories have come from just seven starts in this season alone, including both of his career black-type successes – the White Robe Lodge and the Listed Hazlett Stakes (1200m).
“He’s racing better now, as a six-year-old, than he ever has,” Bosma said. “Back when he was a three-year-old, we took him to Australia to try to qualify for the Victoria Derby (Group 1, 2500m) and it didn’t quite work out, and that trip might have taken a bit out of him.
“But he started to come good towards the end of last season, running second in the Group 2 Easter Handicap (1600m) and bolting in at New Plymouth, and he’s just carried on from there. Over the last 12 months or so, he’s really come into his own and started to produce the best performances of his career.
“I’ll have to talk to Andrew Carston about what we might do next. His rating now means he’ll be topweight in any handicap he runs in, but I wouldn’t mind having a look at the Group 1 El Cheapo Cars WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki on February 26. A weight-for-age race over a mile would suit him, so that might be worthwhile.
“If he runs well there, we could even look at the Group 1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie. I know his stakes wins have been over 1200 and 1600 metres, but he’s previously been a strong winner over 1800 metres and placed at Ellerslie over 2100 metres. It’s something to think about.”
Meanwhile, Miss Ella is likely to be redirected into next Saturday’s Group 2 David and Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa.
“The abandonment today was very frustrating,” Bosma said. “It was obviously the right decision, because injuries to horses or jockeys would be the last thing you’d ever want. But it’s very disappointing to lose the meeting, and especially after it seems like they did everything right in terms of irrigation through the week. You can understand these abandonments a bit more when there’s unexpected rain on a Good3 track.
“But we think a lot of Miss Ella. We bought her as an Oaks filly, and her mother was runner-up in a Queensland Oaks (2400m). The New Zealand Oaks is her target, so it’s disappointing for us to lose the race today – it was an important step towards that goal, and we’ve missed that opportunity.
“I’ll talk to Stephen Marsh, but I think it’s likely we’ll go to the Group Two fillies’ race at Te Rapa next Saturday. That looks like a logical next step.”