Progressive three-year-old Kali maintained her unbeaten record at Hastings on Saturday but not without high drama as the Tony Pike-trained filly secured her second victory courtesy of a successful protest against fellow Cambridge visitor Jennifer Eccles in the Taupo Pak’nSave Fillies 1100.
The Shaune Ritchie-trained Jennifer Eccles was first past the post after producing a barnstorming late run from near last in the eight-horse field to down Kali and local runner On Show in a blanket finish to the contest.
A bumping duel with Kali at the 250m mark, which saw the race favourite denied momentum and clear racing room, resulted in the placings being reversed in the inquiry room with Jennifer Eccles relegated to second place.
Had the protest proved unsuccessful punters would have felt rightly aggrieved after Kali and rider Leith Innes became a victim of circumstances when trapped on the fence as the pace slackened approaching the home turn. Desperate to extricate his mount from the position, Innes finally found room four places off the fence where shortly afterwards the interference occurred.
Pike was philosophical about the final result but pleased with how his charge had fought back when hampered in the closing stages.
“It’s nice to get the win but not really the way you want to achieve it,” Pike said.
“She was a little fresh and over-raced a bit which didn’t help when she got trapped as the pace eased coming to the corner.
“She copped a bump at the 250m and again at the 100m, while she also got struck over the head by a whip, so to pick herself up and try so hard was very pleasing to see.”
Pike, who had taken out the opening event with promising stayer Beauty Star, will now set Kali for the Gr.3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) back at Hastings on September 21.
“She will take a lot from today and will strip fitter for her next run,” he said.
“Provided all goes to plan she will be back here in the three weeks for the Group Three where I think she will be tough to beat.”
Eventual runner-up Jennifer Eccles lost no admirers with her brave effort whilst third-placed runner On Show showed plenty of heart to fight on well for third in her first run of a new campaign. – NZ Racing Desk