In a thrilling finish to the Gr.3 Inglis Sales Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) the judge couldn’t separate the pair of Vigor Winner and Speedy Meady who shared victory in the feature Te Rapa contest.
Speedy filly Wekaforce used a brilliant start from her inside barrier to set up a hectic speed in front which had the field of fourteen runners stretched out over considerable real estate throughout the early stages of the contest.
Last-start winner Santa Catarina was the first to apply pressure on the leader as she shot to the front at the top of the Te Rapa straight. Vigor Winner, who had raced wide in midfield most of the way, quickly issued his challenge along with Sheezallmine and the well fancied Media Sensation.
Runners were across the track at the 100m before Speedy Meady burst through a gap with what looked like the winning run, only to be caught in the very last stride by Vigor Winner who fought back bravely after being clearly headed.
After several minutes judge Tommy Thomson declared a dead-heat for first with Santa Catarina just a head away in third.
Speedy Meady’s trainer Stephen Ralph was over the moon with the effort by his charge, who had won at Rotorua on Monday but only gained a start when four higher-rated runners were scratched on race morning.
“We’ll take a dead-heat every day,” he said.
“I was sitting up (in the grandstand) on the line and I thought he had it by a nose and I was going completely off, but we’ll take the dead-heat.
“We only knew we were in about 7.25am today so we had to sort the jockey out. Unfortunately, Cameron (Lammas) was on She’s A Thief but we knew Andrew (Calder) had ridden him at the trials so he got the call.
“He ran a quicker time than the open sprint at Rotorua on Monday and I said to people that he would smash them out of the park today, with no disrespect to the other runners, I just thought we had the horse to win.
“As long as he could handle the track, I thought he would be a good shot.”
Vigor Winner’s trainer Lauren Brennan was also pleased with his effort after the lightly raced Declaration Of War gelding had drawn barrier 13 for the contest.
“We were a bit concerned about that draw, although he did do it tough at Taranaki (last start) from a wide draw as well,” she said.
“He has the ability and a good horse always seems to find his way through.”
Brennan had her own concerns with securing a jockey after regular rider Troy Harris was forced to forego the mount at the 11th hour.
“I do feel for Troy as I know he was trying his hardest to get his weight down as he has been so sick,” she said.
“He managed to get hold of Donavan (Mansour) and gave him a few tips on how to ride the horse.
“He (Vigor Winner) has just got so much raw natural ability and we will probably head to Queensland now for something maybe like the Fred Best (Gr.3 1400m) and if he’s going to keep improving like that then possibly a look at the Queensland Guineas (Gr.2 1600m). – NZ Racing Desk
Vigor Winner and Speedy Meady dead-heat at Te Rapa