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Dez makes up for unlucky third last year 9 Aug 2019

Waipukurau racehorse trainer Simon Wilson had trouble picking out his horse Dez during the running of last Saturday’s Group 3 Winter Cup at Riccarton due to being partially colour blind. But he and his partners were seeing dollar signs at the finish of the $100,000 feature.

   Aided by an outstanding ride from top South Island jockey Chris Johnson, Dez produced the best performance of his career to get up in the last stride to claim a head victory over Rosewood in the 1600m event, earning his connections $59,375 in stakemoney and a trophy.

  Under a typically patient Johnson ride, Dez settled nicely in midfield before driving through the middle of the pack as most runners went wide rounding the home turn.

   Rosewood, ridden by Lisa Allpress, looked to have established a winning break when clear inside the last 200m. But Johnson never gave up on Dez and managed to extract that little bit extra out of his mount.

   Dez, who is part-owned by Wilson along with close friends Sam Lennox (Waverley) and Paul Mitchell (Patea), had finished an unlucky third in the same race 12 months ago and his connections planned another attack this year. However, the horse looked a forlorn chance to even make the trip south after a run of poor form saw him beat just four horses home in his first three starts this campaign.

   The Zed eight-year-old showed a lot more zest when winning a 1000m jumpout at Hastings on July 19 and Wilson decided to make a couple of gear changes when the gelding lined up over 1600m at Otaki a fortnight ago, removing the blinkers and adding a tongue-tie.

   Dez bounced back to form by winning that Otaki Rating 82 race, lumping 60.5kg in the process, and dropped to a luxury weight of only 53kg at Riccarton last Saturday.

   “We’ve had a few problems, but we sorted them out and he has definitely hit top form at the right time,” Wilson said after Saturday’s win.

   “Being by Zed we knew he would handle the conditions and he had a great rider on board.

   “I actually can’t see that well as I’m a little bit colour blind but when he turned in it looked like he was coming through with a good run and it was a fantastic ride by Chris.”

   Johnson was typically nonchalant as he described Dez’s performance in a race that he last won back in 1991 aboard Robyn’s Affair.

   “He travelled nice in the race although when we moved into second halfway down, he was flat out,” he said.

   “The second horse (Rosewood) kept kicking and he (Dez) just lifted that last bit.

   “I wasn’t sure if we had got up as I’ve had a run of seconds and thought I was second again.”

   It was win number seven for Dez from only 17 starts. He spent two and a half years side-lined with tendon issues after winning two of his first three starts back in 2015.

   The horse will now back up in tomorrow’s $40,000 Christchurch Casino Winter Classic (1800m) on the last day of the Grand National meeting at Riccarton, a race he won last year.


Kuru’s week to remember

   Hastings-born jumps jockey Aaron Kuru has certainly experienced the highs and lows of racing in the past week.

   Kuru, 27, went to last Saturday’s first day of the Grand National meeting at Riccarton thinking he had a good chance of landing both feature jumping events, the Sydenham Hurdles on No Change and the Koral Steeplechase aboard Des de Jeu.

   However, as luck would have it, No Change fell at the third last fence and Des De Jeu crashed at the last, meaning Kuru was twice left sprawling on the Riccarton turf.

   Fortunately, he escaped injury in the two falls and boarded a flight from Christchurch to Melbourne on Saturday evening, along with fellow jumps jockeys Shaun Phelan, Emily Farr and Buddy Lammas, to compete at Sunday’s Sandown meeting.

   Kuru already had a ride in the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown and got the call up to replace Mathew Gillies aboard Teddy Twinkletoe in the $272,000 Australian Grand National Hurdle after the latter was stood down following a heavy fall from El Fernando in the maiden steeplechase at Riccarton on Saturday.

   Kuru was only too happy to take the ride on Teddy Twinkletoe and duly rewarded the nine-year-old gelding’s connections when scoring a 4-3/4 length win in the 4200m feature.

   Kuru was delighted to pick up the biggest win of his career, but had mixed feelings given the circumstances around attaining the ride.

   “I was lucky enough to get on for this ride,” he said. “It was unfortunate for Matt Gillies back home, I do feel for him, but I am very happy. I picked up a very nice ride and I am glad we delivered.”

   While officially trained by Paddy Payne, Tallyho Twinkletoe had been prepared in New Zealand by Wanganui horseman Kevin Myers up until just days before last Saturday’s race.

   Kuru, who began his career working out of the Hastings stable of Patrick Campbell and then John Bary before moving to Cambridge, was delighted that the win came aboard a New Zealand horse and he is hoping for more future success in Australia.

   He returned to Christchurch for Wednesday’s second day of the Grand National carnival and immediately struck again with a polished winning performance aboard Resolution in race one, the maiden hurdle over 3100m.

   Revolution, trained by the Hastings partnership of Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal, took out the 3100m event by 14-1/2 lengths. He raced a bit keenly in second place in the early stages, so Kuru let him roll to the front with 2000m to run quickly opened up a winning break.

  The grey rounded the home bend with a six length buffer on the field and had no trouble extending that margin with excellent leaps over the last two fences.

   “It wasn’t an easy ride on my behalf because he was pulling quite hard, but Paul Nelson gets his horses fit and he was able to get he job done,” Kuru said after the race.

   “He’s a horse that has a big future if he can only learn to relax a bit more in the running and not pull so hard.”  

   Revolution is owned by Paul Nelson and his wife Carol and they bred the nine-year-old Guillotine gelding out of the Gold Brose mare Kettle Hill, who was the winner of one race.


Bary top HB trainer

   John Bary has earned bragging rights over the partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen after beating them by one win in last season’s New Zealand trainers’ premiership.

   The two stables have had a personal battle over the past few years for the title of leading Hawke’s Bay trainer for the season and this year it came right down to the wire. They were locked on 25 wins apiece until Bary edged ahead when saddling up Callsign Mav to win at Hastings on July 18.

   Bary finished 19th on last season’s national trainers’ premiership with 26 wins, 17 seconds and 14 thirds from 173 starters. He produced two stakes winners and had an overall winning strike-rate of 6.65.

   The Lowry/Cullen stable finished 22nd on the premiership with 25 wins, 19 seconds and 21 thirds from 182 starters. They had one stakes winner and an overall winning strike-rate of 7.28.


King Louis now in Australia 

   Talented Hawke’s Bay owned four-year-old King Louis, one of two stakes winners last season for Hastings trainer John Bary, will do his future racing in Australia.

   Owners Richard and Liz Wood have transferred the Equiano gelding to the Ballarat stable of Simon Morrish, a move that Bary described as completely understandable.

   “While it’s always a shame to see a nice horse leave the barn, Richard has made a business decision and is doing the right thing by the horse,” Bary said.

   “He’s a four-year-old now who will have the chance to compete for and win some decent prize money over there, which is not the case here under the present circumstances.”

   Richard and Liz Wood share in the ownership of Chouxting The Mob, who has won seven races in the care of Simon Morrish, including four in a row during May and June this year. They also have other horses in the John Bary stable including promising three-year-old The Fugitive, who finished a close second in an open 750m heat at last Friday’s Hastings jumpouts.

   The son of Wanted won nicely on debut, over 1100m, at Awapuni last season and has been back in work since June after spelling following an unplaced effort in the Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) in March.

   “The Fugitive will be one of our main chances at the upcoming spring carnival here at home.

   “He will probably run on the first day in the El Roca - Sir Colin Meads Trophy (Listed, 1200m) and then on to the Hawke’s Bay Guineas (Group 2, 1400m) on the last day.”

   Another of Bary’s winning two-year-olds from last season is Callsign Mav who is also being set for the Group 2 Sacred Fall Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) on October 5.


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