Trainer Lisa Latta has always had faith that five-year-old galloper He's A Doozy had the necessary ability to make it all the way to the top echelon and that belief was rewarded at Trentham on Saturday when he ploughed through the heavy underfoot conditions to take out the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m).
The son of Zacinto has taken a long time to grow into his massive frame and showed signs he was well on his way during the spring which saw him win two of his three starts including the Group 3 Coupland's Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton.
Given time to get over that performance, Latta gave her charge one run at the venue earlier in the month to fit him for Saturday's task and he stripped in top order for the challenge.
Despite concerns he may not handle the testing surface on offer, rider Kozzi Asano gave him a ten out of ten ride as he saved ground along the inner throughout before switching wide for better ground at the top of the home straight.
2023 Group 1 Thorndon Mile – He's A Doozy
He's A Doozy put a break on his rivals and with Asano riding hard he held out a relentless challenge from race favourite Sharp ‘N' Smart and southerner Lightning Jack to take victory by half a length at the line.
“It was a great ride by Kozzi as we were very concerned about the inside barrier draw,” Latta said.
“He managed to get a lovely trip and I said to him he has got a little bit dour in his work as he is looking for 2000m, so have him right there turning in and that is exactly what he did.
“He has a fantastic group of owners in a big syndicate, a lot of fun and it's great to be involved.”
Asano was also glowing after the race as he brought up the first Group One victory of his riding career, although he did have some pre-race doubts.
“I do have to say sorry to my partner as she wanted to be with me when I won my first Group One but I said maybe we might not get that today,” he said.
“A big thanks to Lisa and the owners who have kept me on this horse, as in very tough conditions the horse has gone super.
“Everyone wanted to be wide and I was worried that he might not handle the ground but he travelled well throughout the race and at the top of the straight Lisa had told me I had to be right there (at the front).
“I was right there and I couldn't believe it, so full credit to the horse as he brought me to the line first.
“You never know when a horse is going to wake up and start flying and this horse has done a tremendous job and is such a nice horse.”
Raced by a 15-strong group, He's A Doozy was bred by the Dennis brothers in Southland out of their O'Reilly mare The Dewdrop, who won four races.