Father-and-son combine to win New Zealand’s inaugural polytrack race

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Champagne Princess

It’s been a while coming for New Zealand to have its first raceday on a synthetic track, but for Darryn and Sam Weatherley it was well worth the wait.

The father-and-son team combined to win the first ever race on Cambridge Jockey Club’s newly developed polytrack on Wednesday courtesy of Champagne Princess in the Magnum Industries 1550.

Jumping from barrier 10, Champagne Princess settled three-wide with cover before jockey Sam Weatherley asked her to improve at the 600m mark. She swiftly looped the field and opened up several margins turning for home and ran away to a comfortable five-length victory over Jojakk.

Trainer Darryn Weatherley was ecstatic to team up with his son to take out the historic race.

“That is one record no one will ever take off me,” he said. “I am absolutely stoked and I am so thrilled for (owner) Pam Brindley who has been a great supporter of ours.

“I am thrilled to bits to have her and for Sam to ride her like he did and get the result was just huge.”

Weatherley said he discussed the daring tactics with his son prior to the race and he was delighted they paid off.

“I said to him before he went out that I think they will show more toe than a roman sandal and just to let her go through the gears and if she comes up underneath you, bring her into the clear and see what we have got. That is exactly how it unfolded,” Weatherley senior said.

Droves of local supporters flocked to the meeting and Weatherley said the atmosphere was electric on course.

“It’s a great atmosphere here,” he said. “I went and had a quiet beer with Rambo (Steven Ramsay, trainer) before we watched it, it was super.”

The winning jockey was just as animated with the result.

“It’s pretty special and all the more special that I can share it with Mum and Dad, and the whole family,” Sam Weatherley said.

He was also full of praise for his father’s tactics.

“Dad was spot on,” Weatherley said. “He said there is no point chasing her too much. We drew wide and I was able to get on the three-wide train and really put them to the sword before the corner.

“She won so well and I am so pleased for Pam, she puts so much into racing and she is here and she is so thrilled. It is great to get another winner for Dad and to create history.”

Having raced on Heavy11 grass tracks in the last week, Weatherley said it was a welcome change to return with clean riding breaches and silks after the race.

“It’s great, I have got no mud on me or anything. I can’t say a bad word about it,” he said.

Matamata-trained runners won the first two races, with Champagne Princess paying +2250 and the Mark Brosnan-trained Pablo Casals (+3520) winning race two, before Cambridge trainer Chris Wood struck in race three with the well-supported Funtonic (+260).

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