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Filly is proving extra good for Hawke’s Bay pair 9 May 2019

Two long time Hawke’s Bay friends who have been racing horses together for more than 20 years, celebrated a deserved success when Shez Ekstra capped off some minor placings with a decisive maiden win at Trentham last Saturday.

   Paddy Murphy and Grahame Hook, who both live in Taradale, bred and own the Ekraar three-year-old filly and the way she won suggests she should go on to much better things for them in the future.

   “Grahame and I have been going to race meetings together for 40 years and have raced horses together for 20-odd years,” Paddy Murphy recalled this week.

   “The first horse we raced together was Regal Secret who was trained by Trevor Whittington, when he was based at Hastings a long time ago.

   One of the best horses the pair has raced was MacDagger, who recorded four wins and five minor placings from the Foxton stable of Grant Laursen.

   Murphy and Hook bred MacDagger and also raced his dam Machadee and grand dam Miradee, who were both one race winners.

   Paddy Murphy has also raced horses in other partnerships over the years, with his biggest success to date being Don Domingo’s win in the 2011 Hawke’s Bay Cup.

   Shez Ekstra is trained on the Hastings track by the Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen partnership and was having her ninth start when she lined up in the Nicoletta Cup Maiden (1600m) at last Sunday’s Wellington meeting.

   The filly’s win followed three second placings, the most recent over 1600m at Waipukurau in March.

   Lowry and Cullen have always had a high opinion of Shez Ekstra and it was just a matter of striking the right track conditions for the filly, and also the addition of blinkers, to bring out the best in her.

   Jockey Johnathan Parkes settled the filly back fourth-last in the early rush for positions before angling her away from the inside passing the 800m peg and then improving around the field coming to the home bend.

   Shez Ekstra was the widest runner on straightening and kept up a strong finish to win by 1-1/2 lengths from Relda, with Greystone a further 1-1/4 lengths back in third.

   The winning time of 1:40.84 on a heavy-10 track was almost two seconds faster than Whatsup took to beat the Rating 65 horses in the following race.

   Shez Ekstra’s victory brought up 100 wins for the season for jockey Johnathan Parkes and he made it 1010 when taking out the following event on Whatsup. It is the third time he has posted in excess of 100 wins in a season, with his best year being when he chalked up 118 wins in 2013-14.

   Murphy said he and Hook have already turned down some lucrative offers for Shez Ekstra but they have so far resisted selling her.

   “Grahame has always been keen to keep her and I agree,” Murphy said.

   “She should get better with age and over more distance.”

   Lowry and Cullen would like to step the filly up in distance in her next start, but the only suitable race for her is a Rating 65 event over 2040m at Wanganui on June 1.

   “It is a long wait until then so we might have to look at another 1600-metre race at Awapuni on May 18 in the meantime,” Murphy added.

   Murphy and Hook bred She’s Ekstra out of the Viking Ruler mare Happiness Rules, who they owned for a couple of years before giving her away.

   “There were only two foals out of the mare,” Murphy said.

   “The first one was by Faltaat and was no good.”


Impressive fresh up victory

    London Express, part-owned by Havelock North’s Tess Castles, brought up her third win from only eight starts when she resumed from a spell with a dominant victory at Trentham last Sunday.

    The Shamexpress filly was having her first start since November last year when she lined up in the $30,000 Enzo’s Lad Cup, a Rating 82 race over 1200m. But she had hinted at a big fresh up performance with a second in a 1000m trial at Foxton in March and then an impressive win in a 1000m Waverley trial on April 9.

   Trainer Allan Sharrock engaged apprentice Madan Singh to ride London Express at Trentham to make use of his two kilogram claim.

   The filly wanted to over-race in the early stages as Singh tried to restrain her back in about sixth place and then he had to wait on a split between horses early in the home straight before asking her to extend.

   Once in the clear London Express accelerated quickly and looked to have plenty in reserve as she got to the line clear of King Cougar and the fast finishing William Wallace.

   “She’s a quality filly that doesn’t mind the sting out of the ground and we’ll have a lot of fun with her,” trainer Allan Sharrock said.

   London Express certainly showed plenty of potential as a two-year-old last season, winning over 1200m at New Plymouth at her third start before taking out the Listed $50,000 Castletown Stakes (1200m) at Wanganui.


Carillion performs at her best again

   Guy Lowry had a special thank-you to fellow Hastings trainer Kate Hercock following Carillion’s return to wining form in the $22,500 Emily Margaret Cup at Trentham last Saturday.

   Carillion is a very highly strung mare who has not been easy to ride in trackwork and has ruined her chances by wanting to go far too keenly in her races. So the Lowry/Cullen partnership has used the experience of former successful jockey Kate Hercock to help settle the filly down in her work.

   The policy certainly worked with Carillion being a lot more manageable, despite leading all the way, when recording a 1-3/4 length win over 1000m at Sunday’s Wellington meeting.

   The speedy mare bounced out quickly from an outside barrier to quickly get across and lead the big field coming across the junction and on to the course proper.

   Jockey Anna Jones then kicked the mare clear early in the home straight and she kept up a strong run to the line to comfortably hold out Desert Magic and Miss Lizzie.

    It was Carillion’s third win from 18 starts. She won a 1000m maiden race at Taupo in August last year and also took out a 1200m Rating 65 race at Wairoa in February.

   The mare races in the colours made famous by horses bred and raced by the former Te Parae Stud in Masterton and was bred by Wairarapa-based Angela Williams. The mare is now raced by a syndicate that is managed by Auckland’s John Duncan, with several of the members residing in the Wairarapa area.

   Guy Lowry said Carillion will now probably head to a Rating 72 race over 1200m at Awapuni on May 18.

   “We weren’t sure whether she would handle that heavy track at Trentham but she got through it well,” Lowry said.


Melody Belle back in work

   Multiple Group 1 winner Melody Belle has returned to Jamie Richards’ stable, with her trainer pencilling in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa in August as the mare’s early target.

   “She got back on the truck at Te Akau Stud on Monday morning and travelled to Matamata,” Fortuna Syndicate manager John Galvin said.

   “She will trial a couple of times, probably in late July and then at Te Teko (in August), and shell go to the Foxbridge and then on to Hawke’s Bay.

   “This year we will do the three legs of the Hawke’s Bay triple crown, we didn’t go to the Livamol (Classic) with her last year.

   “That’s as far as the planning has got at this stage.”

   The mare enjoyed a lucrative campaign last year, adding five further Group 1s to her CV, taking her total top-level tally to six. She won the first two legs of the Hawke’s Bay spring Group 1 triple crown, the Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and Windsor Park Plate (1600m).


Durrant enjoying Australian stint

   Promising Hastings apprentice Hunter Durrant is enjoying a busy lifestyle in Australia, where he is on loan to Victorian trainer Patrick Payne.

   Durrant, 18, is apprenticed to the partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen and left for Australia a fortnight ago. He plans to be there for at least another month and is then likely to have a stint with Wanganui trainer Kevin Myers when he returns to New Zealand.

   “We have sent him over the Patrick Payne’s to further his experience. He is a good rider with a good work ethic and will benefit a lot from the experience,” Guy Lowry said.

   Durrant contacted Lowry this week and said he had just been granted his licence to race-ride in Australia. He is riding up to 25 horses in trackwork of a morning, starting at 4am with the powerful Hawkes stable before moving on to Payne’s property. He was riding at jumpouts on Wednesday and trials yesterday.

   Durrant only started race-riding last year and has had one win from 60 rides. That was aboard Royal Ruby in a Rating 72 race over 1600m at Hastings on New Year’s Day when he led all the way and judged the pace of the race to a nicety. That success followed several minor placings for the young rider.

   Durrant is not from a racing family but was always keen on horses and started riding when he was five. He had a grounding in show jumping before signing up as a probationary apprentice two years ago with Lowry and Cullen.

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