Former Australian galloper Endless Drama backed up an eye-catching finish for second at Hastings last week to go one better at Ellerslie on Saturday when he took out the Gr.2 Manco Easter Handicap (1600m).
The seven-year-old Lope De Vega entire has done the bulk of his racing from the Chris Waller stable in Sydney after kicking off his career in Ireland. Successful at Group Two level over 1400m, Endless Drama was transferred to the stable of Cambridge trainer Tony Pike earlier this year after finishing well back behind Melody Belle in a hit and run raid on the Gr.1 Haunui Farm Weight-For-Age Group One Classic (1600m) for owners Qatar Bloodstock.
Endless Drama showed he could be competitive in good company with a tidy run for fourth at Group Two level over 1600m at Tauranga at his next start before producing a sharp turn of foot over 1200m behind Princess Kereru at Hastings.
An ideal inside barrier played in Endless Drama’s favour on Saturday as rider Leith Innes settled him nicely in midfield throughout before tracking up behind runners approaching the home turn. Angled off the rail at the 300m Endless Drama quickly forged to the front before holding out the challenges of Watch This Space and Yearn to capture his fourth career victory.
Pike was confident he had his charge in the right shape to be a factor in the contest following his Hastings performance.
“It was a superb ride by Leith (Innes) as I said to just try and hold him up for as long as you can,” he said.
“He sat and waited until the 200m to let him go and he has got an electric turn of foot that he showed at Hawkes Bay.
“We thought we had him back in form then and we were quietly confident heading into today.”
Pike admitted he had taken a patient path with Endless Drama as the horse had shown some symptoms of niggling issues from the general wear and tear over his career to date.
“He’s just got a little bit of a wind issue being an older horse,” he said.
“He’s quite a big, gross, heavy horse and just ridden that little bit quieter means he can get in a better rhythm and show that turn of foot.”
Pike’s association with Qatar Bloodstock, who he had trained for earlier in his career, saw him take over training duties when the horse was left in New Zealand and he paid tribute to Waller and the owners after the race.
“I was lucky enough to train for Qatar Bloodstock some years back now and when the horse failed at Otaki, Chris (Waller) said to them he was probably better placed here rather than go back to Sydney,” Pike said.
“They left him here and the change of environment with an older horse has really improved him.
“Chris is a good mate of mine so it’s nice to be able to improve one off him.”
Endless Drama, who finished third behind wonder mare Winx at just his second Australian start, has now won four of his 23 career runs and just over $580,000 in prizemoney. – NZ Racing Desk