Signify defies odds to win 2017 Telegraph Handicap

Signify upsets the field when taking out the Group 1 Telegraph Handicap in New Zealand

THE 2017 Group 1 Telegraph Handicap has gone to an outsider as Signify downed the well-favoured Start Wondering on the line to win the $250,000 feature at Trentham on Saturday.

The five-year-old gelding was having its first start at Trentham, but the inexperience didn’t prove costly as it backed up a solid effort at Wingatui to land one of New Zealand’s biggest sprinting prizes.

The son of Perfectly Ready took its record to eight wins from 30 starts and winning jockey Racha Cuneen, who scored his first Group one win aboard La Diosa in the 1000 Guineas last November, was elated with the result.

“It’s amazing,” Cuneen said. I was travelling really well, I waited as long as I could, I asked the horse and he did the rest.

Signify won by the narrowest of margins over $5.80 chance Start Wondering which was coming off a win in the Group 1 Railway Handicap at Ellerslie, but Cuneen was confident he got the deciding bob in.

I was reasonably confident, but you never know with these angles,” he said.

Winning trainer and former jockey Alex Cowan always knew he had the horse to win a big race, despite the odds of $61 at Sportsbet.

“After his last second, it was only an option, just in case things go right,” Cowan said. “But he’s a five-year-old and he should be at his best at this time.”

The win was the biggest of Cowan’s training career, but it wasn’t easy for the horseman to be sitting on the

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“It’s truly unbelievable really, being a jockey in the past and then training, you’d rather go to the gates being on them because you’re in control and up in the grand stand you’re not,” Cowan said.

“It’s so hard to let go and let someone else take over and do it right, but he did it terrifically today.”

Signify has been a difficult horse to get right for Cowan, who describes the horse as ‘interesting’.

“He’s been a bit of a interesting horse, too keen at times,” Cowan said.

“He tripped himself by over-racing, if he gets daylight too soon he gets too keen. He needs the lazy hands.”

Start Wondering lost no admirers in finishing second. The Rayner-trained runner had good success in Sydney where it won three races, before suffering from a bleeding attack and returning to New Zealand.

It found the lead in the final 200 metres, but wasn’t able to see off the challenge from Signify which had the drop on the six-year-old.

Race favourite Perfect Fit finished off well to run third with Australian hopeful Odyssey Moon unable to make an impression.

The sad news out of the race was the pulling up of four-year-old First Serve. The Pitman-trained mare was pulled out of the race early with jockey Samantha Wynne immediately dismounting the winner of seven from 10 starts.

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