IN Racing
HB owners share in the success of in-form Matamata stable
John Jenkins | June 08, 2024
Geriatrix in full stride winning over 1400m at Rotorua on May 11. The Almanzor colt went on to win his Australian debut in a A$85,000 race in Brisbane

The Matamata training partnership of Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott produced two impressive winners on opposite sides of the Tasman last Saturday, both with Hawke’s Bay connections.

The pair, who operate Wexford Stables, won the A$85,000 HKJC Handicap (1400m) in Brisbane with the highly promising three-year-old Geriatrix and, less than an hour later, they saddled up Little Bit Of Love to take out a $40,000 Rating 75 race over 1400m at Pukekohe.

Geriatrix races in the colours of Hawke’s Bay couple Sam and Birdie Kelt, who race the colt with a group of others that include Havelock North couple Andrew and Lauren Scott.

Little Bit Of Love was recording his fourth win in a row and is raced by the One Second Syndicate, with  two of the members being Napier couple Derek and Janet Hill.

Geriatrix’s win last Saturday came as some consolation after the horse was balloted out of the race his connections wanted to run him in, the Group 3 A300,000 Fred Best Classic (1400m).

The Almanzor colt now boasts a record of four wins and a second from only 10 starts and has won $86,285 in stakemoney, which is still a long way short of the $675,000 he cost as a yearling from the 2022 Karaka sales.

Geriatrix earned a trip to Queensland when winning a three-year-old race over 1400m at Rotorua on May 11 and he had also produced strong finishes to be close behind the placegetters in the Group 3 Wellinton  Stakes (1600m), Group 2 Wellington Guineas (1400m) and Group 3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m).

Expat New Zealand jockey Michael Dee was having his first ride on Geriatrix last Saturday and showed great patience in the running, settling the colt out the back, and three-wide, before improving around the field coming to the home turn.

They were one of the widest on the track straightening for the run home and Geriatrix unleashed a powerful finish down the outside to sweep past his rivals and win by half a length.

O’Sullivan and Scott are now hoping to step Geriatrix up into black-type company in the Group 3 A$200,000 Gunsynd Classic (1600m) at Eagle Farm on June 15.

Few horses win four races on end but Little Bit Of Love showed a real tenacity to succeed when he out finished the pacemaking Wessex in a head-to-head battle over the final stages at Pukekohe last Saturday.

L:ittle Bit Of Love has now won five races from only eight starts. The four-year-old Time Test gelding was a maiden winner over 1200m at Tauranga in January and then recorded a seventh and a fifth in his next two starts.

Given a brief freshen up he then strung together three victories in a row at Te Rapa, producing booming finishes to win a 1300m Rating 65 and two 1400m Rating 75 events.

He stayed in the same grade last Saturday but rose to the top of the handicap at 60.5kg, with apprentice jockey Ngakau Hailey reducing that impost to 57.5kg with his 3kg claim.

Hailey was in no hurry in the early running, letting his mount settle back third last while his best credentialled rival Wessex took up her customary role in the lead.

Wessex still had plenty to offer at the top of the home straight and quickly put a break on the field. But once Hailey brought Little Bit Of Love to the outside of the track he quickly hit top gear and soon ranged up outside the leader before gaining the upper hand close to the line.

Little Bit Of Love, who has now amassed just under $100,000 in stakemoney, was bred by Graham and Helen Bax and is raced by a syndicate managed by their daughter Kylie.

Adding to what has been a hugely successful season for the O’Sullivan/Scott stable they also produced claimed NZB Three-year-old Filly of the Year title with stable star Molly Bloom.

At the end of the exciting 11-race series Molly Bloom had amassed 28 points, to put her well clear of her nearest rivals.

Her wins included the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m), Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) and Group 2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m).


Hastings track given all clear

The racing surface at the Hastings track was given another tick of approval after six heats of jumpouts were run on the course proper on Wednesday.

Jockeys, trainers and racing administrators were all happy with the way the track held up after 24 horses galloped on it.

It was the second set of jumpouts held on the track since the course proper underwent a complete renovation following the February 28 race meeting, which had to be abandoned after four races due to an unsafe racing surface.

New Zealand Thoroughbred chief operating officer Darin Balcombe has attended both series of jumpouts and gave the racing surface a glowing appraisal on Wednesday.

“It’s great,” he said. “The horses are just going into the top of it and there are no signs of movement.”

“There was some slight movement when we held the last lot of jumpouts three weeks ago but nothing today.”

Senior jockey Jonathan Riddell rode in all six heats and described the surface as “lovely” while Hastings trainers Guy Lowry and John Bary were both happy with the way the track stood up to the use.

It is now all systems go for the next scheduled race meeting on the course, which is the Hawke’s Bay Hunt meeting on Saturday, June 29.


Bradley hangs up his boots

Central Districts jockey Darryl Bradley has been in a career transition over the last few years and he feels now is the right time to officially call time on his riding career.

It brings the curtain down on four decades in the saddle where the 57-year-old horseman has recorded 1832 wins, with 103 of those at stakes level.

For the last five years, Bradley has been transitioning to a career as a racecourse manager, for which he is now the track manager of Manawatu Harness Racing Club in Palmerston  North, following stints at Awapuni and Foxton racecourses.

“I knew my riding career was starting to dry up, so I was searching for another job, and I was lucky enough to get the course manager’s job at Foxton Racing Club five and a half years ago. That was a great start ,” Bradley said.

“The Manawatu Harness track manager position came up a little while later and I got the job, and I’m very grateful.”

While Bradley made a career in the saddle, harness racing is not foreign to him, having grown up with a dual-code father, Graham Bradley.

Surrounded by both thoroughbreds and standardbreds growing up, it was the former that captured a young Bradley’s imagination, and he was intent on pursuing a career as a jockey.

Bradley rode his first winner aboard Choir Path, a horse trained by his father, in 1984. His first stakes win came several seasons later, when he rode Sir Daniel to win the 1992 Hawke’s Bay Cup.

Bradley enjoyed his time working under his father, but decided a move to Palmerston North was important to help further his riding career.

His career trajectory continued to rise, and eventually he became the country’s leading jockey in the 1998/99 season when riding 133 winners, eight at stakes level, and more than $1.3million in prizemoney.

Bradley said he has had a number of highlights in his career, but none more so than winning the 2016 running of the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) with El Soldado.

“That was a race I thought I would never win,” he said. “I find Ellerslie the hardest track to ride. It was something special about El Soldado winning.

“It was only just ahead of Sapio winning the Doomben Cup and New Zealand Cup.”

Bradley also enjoyed a lot of success on a number of other horses and enjoyed a solid record with a number of Central Districts trainers, including Group 1 wins aboard the Patrick Campbell-trained Avedon in the New Zealand 2000 Thousand Guineas (1600m) and Bayer Classic (1600m).

“There was also Chad, he won 14 races and I won 13 on him, and I won 12 on King Of Ashford,” he said.

“I had a good association with Karen Zimmerman when she was at Otaki, I rode just over 100 winners for her. Then joining the stable of Lisa Latta after that, the list of winners goes on from there.

“In the mid-nineties, I got a call from Kay Marsh, Bruce Marsh’s wife, and she asked if I wanted to join their stable. That was a big boost to my career, Bruce was a very astute trainer.”

Bradley’s riding career also afforded him the ability to travel internationally.

“I have ridden in four states of Australia, with a couple of placings and the Group 1 win in the Doomben Cup,” he said.

He also represented New Zealand in a World Jockeys’ Championship in Japan, rode Sapio in an international race in Hong Kong and had brief riding stints in Malaysia and Mauritius, kicking home winners in both places.