IN Racing
Zappa Jak’s fresh up win a bonus for his HB connections
John Jenkins | June 28, 2024
Zappa Jak, ridden by Toni Davies in a R65 1700m on the Awapuni synthetic track

Zappa Jak’s fresh up win a bonus for his HB connections

Missing out on an intended run at last week’s abandoned Awapuni synthetic trials had a silver lining for the Hawke’s Bay connections of Zappa Jak when he produced a game fresh up win in a $17,000 Rating 65 race over 1700m on the same track.

The five-year-old gelding hadn’t raced for six months and his Waipukurau trainer, Kirsty Lawrence, felt he needed a trial before resuming on race day.

She entered him for the Awapuni synthetic trials, which were to be run on June 18, and was disappointed when they were abandoned after only 16 entries were received.

“I thought then we might as well go straight into a race instead and so we entered  him for the Awapuni synthetic meeting three days later,” Lawrence said.

“He’d been in work since March so we knew he was pretty fit but I suppose it was still a big ask to run him over 1700m without a trial.”

She said what helped sway her decision was that Zappa Jak was dropping back from Rating 75 grade and, although he was given topweight of 60kg, she was able to secure the services of promising apprentice Toni Davies who claimed a 3kg allowance.

Zappa Jak drew the number one barrier but Davies let her mount settle back behind midfield in the early stages and was content to stick to the inside.

Rounding the tight home turn the leader Rocabury and other runners ran wide and Davies was able to get a saloon passage along the inside rail, making up many lengths and joining the leaders early in the home straight.

Zappa Jak still had plenty in reserve and forged clear over the final stages to win by 1-1/4 lengths from Rocabury, with a further 1-1/2 lengths back to third placed Bourbon Falls.

What made the win even more meritorious is that Zappa Jak lost a plate during the race.

It was the Jakkalberry gelding’s fourth win from only 24 starts, the last coming in a Rating 75 race over 1800m at Riccarton at the New Zealand Cup meeting in November last year.

“He is a horse that has to have a firm track, which is why he went so well at Riccarton last year,” Lawrence said.

“He is by Jakkalberry and most of them go well on wet tracks but he hates them. As soon as it gets shifty he is hopeless.”

Kirsty Lawrence and her husband Steve own an 85 per cent share in Zappa Jak after acquiring the horse from his Hawke’s Bay breeder Doug Phillips.

They have taken in some other close Hawke’s Bay friends to help race the horse, those being Simon and Wendy Collin, Rod and Donna Overend, Shane Overend, Kevin McCoy and Mike Ju.

Lawrence said she is now aiming Zappa Jak at a Special Conditions $100,000 race over 2000m on the Cambridge synthetic track on August 8 but is frustrated by the fact that there are very few suitable lead-up races for the horse in the interim.

“There are not even any synthetic trials planned for July so it makes it hard to plot a path towards that Cambridge race,” she said.

“He hates heavy grass tracks so it would be a waste of time running him on one.”

Zappa Jak’s win last week was a welcome change of fortune for Kirsty and Steve Lawrence after they lost their former stable star Intransigent in an accident a few weeks ago.

The Refuse To Bend gelding was an outstanding performer from the Lawrence stable, recording 11 wins and 14 minor placings from 80 starts. His victories included the 2014 Group 3 Hawke’s Bay Cup (2200m) and the Listed Taumarunui Gold Cup (2100m) at Te Rapa while he also recorded three wins in a row in the Tauranga Kiwifruit Cup (2100m), in 2013, 2014 and 2015.


Birthday win for Peter Grieve

Prominent Hawke’s Bay racehorse owner-breeder Peter Grieve celebrated his 81st birthday in style on Friday of last week with the occasion made even more memorable when his horse Island Hop won on the day.

Grieve had invited a group of family members and friends to help celebrate his birthday at Jarks Bar and Restaurant in Hastings knowing he also had a runner in race four at the Awapuni synthetic track meeting, a Rating 65 event over 1400m.

Whilst admitting to having a bet on the horse, Grieve was also a little apprehensive as to his chances, saying he was doing a few things wrong in his galloping action.

Island Hop is trained at Wanganui by Kevin Myers and was ridden by that stable’s talented apprentice Lily Sutherland.

She allowed the horse to settle near the back of the eight horse field in the early stages before sending him on a forward move around the field coming to the home turn.

Island Hop was the widest runner turning into the home straight and, to the cheers of the crowd at Jarks, he produced a strong finish down the outside of the track to win by 1-3/4 lengths.

It was the Swiss Ace gelding’s fourth win from 24 starts and he has also recorded eight minor placings.

Grieve owns Island Hop in partnership with Queenstown-based Barry Thomas and they bred the seven-year-old gelding out of the High Chaparral mare Chapinta.

Chapinta was the winner of six races and has had four foals to race, all of them winners.

The first of them was Gold Mag, who won three races in Australia, while Island Hop was the second foal and since then the mare has produced Chapinteel (three wins) and Indian Gold, who was an impressive debut winner at New Plymouth earlier this month.


Weanling walk tomorrow 

This Sunday’s annual Hawke’s Bay/Poverty Bay Thoroughbred Breeders weanling walk will commence at 10am, with the first lot of weanlings to be viewed at Butch and Lu Thomas’s Willow Tree Farm property at 191 Matapiro Road, Crownthorpe.

It will then proceed to Guy and Brigid Lowry’s property at 305 Kawera Road and finish up at Linden Estate Winery, Eskdale.

Vicki Wilson, who operates Hau Ora Farm, will be parading the stallion Mongolian Falcon and progeny on the lawn in front of the Valley d’Vine Restaurant at Linden Estate.


Macnab still enjoys the competition

Scotty Macnab looks forward to competing in the Duke Of Gloucester Cup (2100m) every season, and he will be aiming for a third crown in the iconic amateur riders’ event at Hastings this Saturday.

Macnab, 58, has been New Zealand’s most successful amateur rider for the better part of a decade, winning the Flair Amateur Rider Series five times, including last year’s edition staged through the winter and early spring.

A farmer from Wanganui, Macnab followed in the footsteps of his father Dave in competing in the series, while his niece Sarah (O’Malley) also won the title in 2016 before commencing her apprenticeship.

“I fell into doing these races really. I wanted to look at how Kevin Myers did his horses in the mornings and went there one day with Jo Rathbone,” Macnab said.

“As soon as I got there, Kevin went into the tack room, came out with a pair of boots and told me to get on a horse. I had no intention of riding when I was going there whatsoever.”

Myers and Macnab have been an unstoppable force in the amateur races since he commenced race riding, with their multitude of wins as a combination including Macnab’s first and long-awaited success in the Duke of Gloucester Cup of 2017, which he swiftly followed up with another in 2018.

The race is contested every year at a different venue, dating back to 1935 when Prince Henry attended the Marton Jockey Club meeting and rode in the amateur race before donating the trophy.

“My father won four of them, and that was my goal right from the start to win one. It took me so long to get that first one, it’s not easy and it’s the biggest race for us for the year,” Macnab said.

It’s a big highlight, especially for those of us that have ridden in the races for a little while, it becomes more of a prestige. Some of the kids in their first or second year don’t realise that it is the be all and end all of amateur riding, so if you have won a Duke of Gloucester you’ve done pretty well.”

Macnab picked up where he left off last season in the first amateur race of this year at Hawera when winning aboard the Myers’ trained five-year-old Rakanui, and he will partner last-start winner Quid for the same stable this Saturday.

“I just usually ride the horses that Kevin needs me to ride. I won’t really ride for anyone else because if they have a kid that wants to have a go in the amateurs, I’d rather see them have a turn and keep it going.”

More recent rule changes including no whip-use behind the saddle have changed the landscape of the amateur races in Macnab’s perspective, and how they prepare the budding apprentices for professional riding.

“The amateur races nowadays are so much more professional, you don’t get silly stuff happening. But I do worry that the kids that are riding these days aren’t readying themselves enough for being an apprentice,” he said.

Macnab has seen plenty of high-profile racing figures use the amateur series to get their start, something he would like to see continue into future years.

“There are lots of kids that have gone on to do really well,” he said.

“A lot have had a go at it and moved on, which is what it’s all about.

“I’ve been retiring for a long time, pretty much every year, but Kevin keeps putting my name down in the book, so I keep turning up. But I do love it, and the moment I don’t I’ll give up.”