One of last season’s most promising jumpers returned to the hurdling game with a vengeance at Te Rapa on Saturday with a stunning performance to take out the Fairview Motors Waikato Hurdles (3200m).
The Glynn Brick-trained Iffitel looked a jumper of real ability when winning two of her three attempts over hurdles in 2018, including a comprehensive victory in the Awapuni Hurdle (2900m).
A disappointing effort in the Wellington Hurdle, where she was pulled up during the running, saw Brick conduct a battery of tests after the event that revealed a minor stress fracture that required six weeks of box rest.
After being given time to recuperate, a pair of runs on the flat had her ready for Saturday’s first prestige jumping event of the season where the seven-year-old Iffraaj mare reminded onlookers of her undoubted ability with a dashing display in the hands of rider Hamish McNeill.
Allowed to stride to a clear lead with a round to go, McNeill had Iffitel trucking along nicely throughout before applying the pressure with 800m to run. Sporting a six-length lead turning for home, Iffitel flew the last three obstacles to comfortably hold out El Disparo, who made ground nicely for second with Tommyra rounding out the placings in third.
Brick was ecstatic about the performance from his charge despite expressing some concerns about McNeill’s tactics during the race
“Fantastic, absolutely amazing,” Brick said.
“I was thinking ‘you’ve gone to early, what are you doing’ as I was really, really panicking but then I had a look at the third last (fence) and they were all chasing behind her.
“When he went for her, she responded and jumped the last two really good.”
Brick was quick to praise his team at home who were involved in the mare’s rest and recovery process.
“Everyone involved has done a fantastic job with her,” he said.
“It’s just a fantastic feeling.”
Iffitel has now won three of her 4 hurdle starts to add to four wins on the flat from 45 starts. – NZ Racing Desk