What a difference 30 minutes made for jockey Jonathan Riddell on Saturday.
Fresh from being dumped at the start aboard the well-favoured Babylon Berlin in the previous race, the Cambridge hoop came out and produced a picture-perfect ride aboard class mare Darci La Bella to take out the Group 2 Dunstan Feeds Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m).
The Allan Sharrock-trained daughter of Darci Brahma had seen conditions fall in her favour as 48 hours of persistent rain saw the track come up a Heavy 8 on raceday, a track rating where she had already won four of her eight starts on.
Punters agreed as they installed her as the +120 elect and she never tested their faith at any stage of the contest.
Riddell had her settled beautifully in midfield throughout before making his move through the pack at the 600m.
Darci La Bella loomed into contention shortly afterwards before racing clear to win by three lengths from Express Princess and the fast-finishing Malt Time.
Sharrock was quick to mention the contribution of Riddell to the victory, praising him for being able to throw off what had happened in his previous ride.
“I was actually pleased the track had come back a little bit as I didn’t want it too arduous,” he said.
“That was pretty dominant in the end though.
“With the rating she has (99) she would have been carrying 62kgs in a handicap so the weight-for-age scale (where she carried 57kgs) worked well for her.
“It was also a great ride by a very grumpy jockey, he was very grumpy before the race after what had just happened.
“He is a good rider though, very professional and he got the job done.”
Sharrock was looking at another stakes feature closer to home for the mare’s next target.
“I think we might have to go to the Manawatu Challenge Stakes (Group 2, 1400m) next,” he said.
“She’s actually handling 1400m really well so we have to have a go.”
Raced by Sharrock and long -time stable clients Ann and Hec McCallum along with Ron and Noel Stanley, Darci La Bella is the half-sister to Sharrock’s much loved stakes performer Tavi Mac.
The victory made it ten wins from just 15 starts for Darci La Bella, who has now earned just under $300,000 in prizemoney.