Macthief returns a winner at Tauranga

Macthief and Triston Moodley prevail over Aris Aris (middle) in a tight finish at Tauranga on Saturday. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Well-travelled sprinter Macthief displayed his affinity for winning early in a campaign when he came from last at Tauranga on Saturday to claim victory.

The John Bell-trained seven-year-old began his career in South Africa where he had seven starts, winning two of his first three and also finishing third in the Group 1 Cape Guineas (1600m) before heading to Hong Kong where he was unplaced in his only two runs.

Sent to New Zealand and into the care of Bell he signalled his worth with a first up victory at Taupo over 1200m on a Firm 2 surface.

Sent for a lengthy spell after three subsequent unplaced finishes, Bell set the son of Time Thief for his first race in nearly twelve months with a quiet trial at Matamata in late February and was happy with his progress until steady rain at Tauranga saw the track downgraded to a Slow 6 before the contest, which Bell believed would curtail any winning prospects for his charge.

Apprentice Tristan Moodley used his 3kg claim to good effect as he hugged the rail throughout and had his mount travelling well approaching the home turn, albeit last of the six runners.

With the field fanned across the track at the 200m Macthief poked up on the outside of pacemaker One More Time and thrust his head in front to snatch victory by half-a-length from race favourite Aris Aris and Bee Beep who filled the minor placings.

“I’m flabbergasted as he can’t handle even a spit on the track,” Bell said after the race.

“I told our rider (Moodley) I wanted white paint on his boots as I wanted him that close to the rail and he did that very well.

“He rode him nicely and even though I thought he was a fair way back early on, he came on really nicely.”

Bell was undecided about the immediate future for the horse with the tracks likely to deteriorate as racing enters the autumn and winter months.

“We’ve always thought he was a summer horse and his first two runs were on rock hard tracks,” he said.

“He has ability as he was placed in a Group One in South Africa but didn’t handle it up in Hong Kong.

“He is a big strong boy and it’s quite exciting for his owners (which includes Bell) as they are all family and friends.”

Macthief has now won four of his 14 career starts.

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