Reminiscent of his impressive debut, two-year-old colt Equinox once again showed his liking for the Trentham track with a hard-fought victory at the venue on Saturday.
A $750,000 purchase by Te Akau Racing boss David Ellis at the 2018 National Yearling Sale, Equinox was not comfortable on slow ground in the Gr.3 Waikato Stud Slipper (1200m) last time at Matamata, after making a winning debut over 1000m at Trentham in January.
Replacement rider Michael McNab, who secured the mount when Troy Harris was stood down after being dislodged a day earlier at Te Aroha, bounced Equinox away quickly to dictate the play from in front.
Asked for a serious effort at the top of the Trentham straight, Equinox extended his advantage before holding out a strong late challenge from impressive Cambridge raider Holy Mongolemperor, who stormed home from last to be denied by a long head.
Ellis, who purchased the colt as a member of the three-strong 2018 colts breeding syndicate from his 2018 Karaka purchases, is looking forward to the son of Exceed And Excel tackling the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) on March 30 as his next assignment.
“It’s a great thrill for my owners in the Colts’ Syndicate because he’s now won two of his three starts and all going well, can go on to contest a Group One in a couple of weeks,” he said.
“We’d like to see good ground for him in the Sires’ and ride him with a bit of cover.
“It was great for Michael to pick up the ride because he’s been riding a lot of work for us and my policy is to put those on that ride the work.”
Trainer Jamie Richards was also delighted with the run.
“I said to Michael, I’d like to see him tuck in but it may not be the day to do that and he got a nice soft lead,” he said.
“He’ll be a better colt when he’s ridden with cover and give him something to chase.
“He probably still wants the track a little better again (for the Sires’), but we’re heading into the autumn and the horse is going well. I thought Michael gave him every chance and the second horse had trialled really well, so I think the form will stack up.”
For McNab, the win continued his good form on the course after riding three winners on Wellington Cup Day in January.
“I know a fair bit about him and go over to ride for Te Akau, so I knew him well enough,” McNab said.
“He’s still only three parts there and doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but he’s a got a real presence about him, a really cool horse that knows he’s pretty cool.
“When he puts it all together, he could be very good.”
Equinox is now rated a $12 chance for the Sires’ Produce in a market headed by Group One winning stablemate Yourdeel at $2.40. – NZ Racing Desk
Video: Equinox narrowly prevails in the TAB March Madness Cup (1200m)