Legendary former Ellerslie commentator Keith Haub savoured one of the highlights of his long career in racing when Hezashocka scored a stunning upset in Saturday’s Group 2 Trelawney Stud Championship Stakes (2100m) at Ellerslie.
An iconic voice of the Auckland track for more than two decades until his retirement in 2004, Haub has also celebrated a number of ownership successes along the way – most notably with six-time Group One winner McGinty.
But he ranked Saturday’s Championship Stakes, in which Hezashocka defied a quote of +7400 to score by a nose, as one of the very best.
“What a thrill,” Haub said. “I’ve been lucky enough to stand on the dais a few times over the years, and raced some fantastic horses, but it’s been a long time between drinks. This is probably one of my greatest moments in racing.
“I’m just so grateful to the Clotworthy family for inviting me to be involved and giving me a share in this horse.”
It was also a special moment for winning co-trainer Shaun Clotworthy, who pointed to Haub’s near-lifelong association with his father Kim.
“Haubie’s been like a second father to me,” he said. “It’s great to win this race for him, as well as a number of other really good friends who are also in the ownership of this horse. It’s a fantastic result.”
The Championship Stakes was only the third start of Hezashocka’s career, having finished second on debut at Pukekohe on March 12 and fifth at Ellerslie three weeks later.
After settling in midfield in Saturday’s three-year-old feature, Hezashocka and apprentice jockey Masa Hashizume angled out into the centre of the track as the field rounded the home turn.
As others began to labour in the testing Slow9 ground, Hezashocka surged forward and hit the lead with 200 metres to run.
Last-start Group 3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) winner Joy Alone dived at him late to force a photo-finish, but Hezashocka clung on to his narrow advantage.
“We were planning to target this race before he’d even started in a race,” Clotworthy said. “It’s not often that a long-range plan like that comes off.
“Coming into today as a maiden, you couldn’t really say we were confident. But he’s bred to stay and we decided to have a crack at it. That was a big performance today, and we’re very happy to get this result for such a great group of owners.”
By Shocking out of the Brilliance mare Shezakiwi, Hezashocka was bought by Clotworthy for $18,000 at Karaka in 2019.
Runner-up Joy Alone finished three-quarters in front of the South Island visitor Milford Sound, who ran third and collected his third black-type placing of the season.
The Championship Stakes was also the first black-type win for Hashizume, who had been unplaced in all of his seven previous rides in stakes company.