A front-running masterclass from jockey Sam Spratt paved he way for Te Aroha mare Honneur Noir to dominate her rating 75 rivals over 1400m at Matamata on Saturday.
The Peter Lock trained four-year-old has hit a purple patch of form since breaking maidens in November last year with Saturday’s victory her third from her last five starts.
Sent straight to the front by Spratt after jumping well from an outside barrier, Honneur Noir never flinched as she set up a steady pace before kicking clear early in the run home. Despite being chased by a wall of horses the Falkirk four-year-old kept up a resolute gallop to score comfortably by three lengths from local runners Hay Tiger and Danger Dee who filled the minor placings.
Lock was delighted with the mare’s performance as he contemplates bigger targets for her in the autumn.
“That was a terrific win as she has just gone from strength to strength lately,” he said.
“When she had her first run for us she flew the gates over 1200m but knocked up the last bit. Kelly McCulloch rode her and she came in and told me she was going to be a good mare once she matured.
“It has taken some time, but I think she is getting there now and I do believe she is going to be even better next season.”
Lock was quick to pay tribute to the mare’s owner Bob Emery, who made her available to Lock to race on lease with a large group of mainly first-time owners.
“I can’t thank Bob enough as he leased her to us and agreed to take a share in one of the two syndicates we have in her,” he said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many happy faces after the race, with what are mainly first-time owners, which can only be good for racing.
“To win a race on a Saturday like that is a huge thrill and I don’t think it will be the last for her either.”
Lock will now send Honneur Noir to the paddock for a brief freshen-up before returning to tackle some autumn assignments.
“She has done plenty of late, so she will now have a short break,” he said.
“She will definitely handle some cut in the ground and we’d like to tackle some of the fillies and mares’ races that are coming up in a few months. The aim will be to get her some black-type which I think she is well capable of.”