New Zealand gelding Halston was rewarded for his consistency with his maiden victory in the Matamata Function Centre 1600 on Wednesday.
Placed in four of his previous six starts, Halston was pressed forward early by late replacement jockey Sam Spratt from their wide gate to sit second. Halston travelled well approaching the home turn and kept lengthening when asked to respond.
“He quickened a bit off a strong pace, but is pretty one paced,” Spratt said. “The leader didn’t really give us a drag into it for very long and I thought he might doddle around, but he gave again. It was a huge effort.”
The son of Reliable Man ran out a 1.75 length victor over Belle Of The Ball, with a further long neck back to Diosa Luna in third.
Halston headed into Wednesday in a fresh state and co-trainer Pam Gerard said he appreciated the break between runs.
“He got a little hot beforehand, which they can do on their home track, but blinkers certainly helped his concentration,” said Gerard, who trains in partnership with Michael Moroney.
“He needs to go forward, has a high cruising speed and appreciated a genuine pace. At present, he can’t sit back and sprint, which he has been asked to do. He just needed to go forward, even from the wide draw and it was good to get the job done.
“He’s always shown ability but is a slower maturing type and he hasn’t furnished yet. He has hardened in condition in the last couple of months but still has a fair way to go. It’s a slower maturing family and On The Rocks was the same.
“We had hopes for him as a Derby horse, but he has needed the time both physically and mentally.
“He deserves his chance up in grade after winning, but once the tracks turn he can have a break which will do him the world of good.”
Halston is a half-brother to Group One winning former stablemate On The Rocks, selected by Paul Moroney Bloodstock and purchased for NZD$40,000 as a yearling, along with half-brother Guillotine, a Group Two-winning stallion.