It was a day of doubles for Ballymore Stables and owner Sir Peter Vela, of Pencarrow Stud, at Tauranga on Sunday, with the pair combining to score in the Pure Lighting Maiden (1200m) with debutant Naxos.
The three-year-old son of Harry Angel was having her first raceday start and first public outing since finishing third in a close three-way finish in his 850m heat at Te Awamutu in December.
While he came off third best in that contest, he wasn’t to be outdone in another close finish in his first raceday appearance.
After settling in the trail behind leader My Girl Candy, jockey Billy Jacobsen had to navigate Naxos three-wide to find clear running room when My Girl Candy began to tire when turning for home.
Naxos continued to lift and hit the front in the final 50m and held on to score by a long head over Grand Cru, with a further half head back to Letsbringthebling in third.
“It was good to finally get him to the races, after taking him to Hastings (last month) and having the meeting abandoned, and we’d been waiting for a race to suit him,” said Pam Gerard, who trains in partnership with Michael Moroney.
“He’d come such a long way in this preparation and now looks like a racehorse – has the right attitude to want to be out there and try, and I thought he could be thereabouts if everything went his way.
“Billy (Jacobson) gave him a beautiful trip and the horse does everything right, likes to be competitive, honest, and tries hard.”
Jacobsen was just as pleased with the winning performance after being impressed with the gelding at the trials.
“I knew coming into the straight that I had a good shout, he gave me a nice kick, and held on well,” he said.
“Pam’s done a great job with him. At the trials he showed me a bit, so I fancied him from there and rode him positively.
“It was a tight finish, but we were in for the fight, and he proved the best in winning.”
Naxos made it consecutive wins for Sir Peter Vela after Bonifleur won the STE Industrial Electrical Maiden (1200m) for trainer Paul Richards.
Sir Peter Vela’s racing manager Garry Cossey was trackside to witness the winning double.
“Paul (Richards) told me the first winner for Sir Peter, Bonifleur, probably could have done with another trial, but she got away with it and looked professional, so it’ very pleasing to get a double,” Cossey said.
“Sir Peter will be very pleased with getting a double on the day at Tauranga, and we’re very pleased with the way the horses are being prepared and the feedback we get.
“I spoke with Pam after Naxos trialled, trying to find somewhere he’d be competitive. They were patient and found a lovely race at Hastings, and they were called off which was frustrating, but we’ve been rewarded today. It just goes to show that there’s always something around the corner.
“She placed him very well and had a good handle on him.”
Ballymore secured a double of their own when Madame La Fay took out the last event on the eight-race card, the Tauranga Crossing Fashions In The Field 1600.
“She’s held her condition right through this campaign,” Gerard said.
“If it wasn’t for striking a few wet tracks and a jockey losing his stick at a vital stage, she probably should have won a couple more times.”