Local filly Kailani Sunset sprang a minor upset when she led all the way to take out the Haunui Farm 2YO (800m), the opening event at Pukekohe on Sunday.
The benefit of two raceday starts was clearly in evidence as the Richard Yuill trained runner hugged the rail throughout after jumping from an inside barrier.
As her more inexperienced rivals struggled to get balanced after rounding the home bend, Kailani Sunset established a winning break before repelling a stout challenge from Matamata visitor Cavallo Veloce to notch her first career victory.
Yuill admitted to plenty of pre-race confidence in the Swiss Ace filly’s chances as she returned from a brief summer break after showing promise behind Melt and Nirvana In Fire in her earlier races.
“I was a little bit confident as she is a nice filly who is only going to get better with age,” he said.
“The raceday experience made a big difference as the rest were all trial performers who hadn’t been to the races.
“She jumped and led on the rail well and did everything right.”
Yuill is keen to continue the current programme with the filly although he believes she will furnish into a classy three-year-old next season.
“She’s in work now so we will press on with her,” he said. “We’ll keep her going for as long as we can before turning her out for the winter and then bringing her back in the spring.
“We’re looking forward to a nice three-year-old campaign with her.” Rider Sam Spratt, fresh off a winning double at Te Aroha on Saturday, was pleased with the effort.
“She’s had a few starts now and knows what she is doing,” she said. “She flew out of the gates and put herself there. “She did try to lug out a little when the other one came at her, but she fought on really well.”