Talented stayer Marroni bounced back from an underwhelming autumn campaign in Sydney to open his spring account with a strong win at Te Rapa on Sunday.
The Andrew Forsman-trained six-year-old overcame a chequered-passage over the concluding stages as he powered through the line to land the Wade Equine Coaches 1500 and record his seventh career victory.
Marroni won the Group 3 Manawatu Cup (2230m) late last year and finished third in the Group 3 Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill when opening his Sydney autumn campaign before three unplaced efforts.
Forsman was pleased to see the gelding back in form under apprentice Kelsey Hannan, with Marroni suffering interference inside the final furlong, getting off the canvas to defeat in-form galloper Bullybrook and Masetto.
“He went a really good race first-up in Sydney and he was a bit unlucky second-up in a muddling run race where he got back. Nothing really went right over there and in his last race he had a fibrillation,” Forsman said.
“It was just a culmination of a whole lot of unfortunate events.
“He would have been a certainty beaten today. He had a lot to do given he had his momentum completely halted when making his run and on a track like that it is not easy to do, to pick yourself up and go again. It was a very big win.”
The Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) on October 15 shapes as a likely target race for Marroni.
“There are a couple of paths we have plotted to get him there and hopefully he can measure up at weight-for-age,” Forsman said.
“I know it was a handicap today on a rain-affected track and he has only carried a light weight (52kgs) but we will give him another run over a mile somewhere and he will tell us where he is at.”
Forsman was also pleased with the efforts of a pair of debutants over the weekend, including three-year-old Toronado gelding The Intimidator who ran a nice second to smart galloper Regazzo in a 1400m maiden earlier on the Te Rapa card.
“He is a nice scopey sort of horse that needs a bit of time and better ground,” Forsman said.
“The overnight rain probably tripped him up and he was beaten by an older more seasoned horse. We will see if we can find a three-year-old maiden for him somewhere and he will be hard to beat on a good track next time.”
Forsman was also pleased with the run of Mr Mojo Risin', who finished second in the Listed HS Dyke Wanganui Guineas (1340m) on Saturday.
“He was very good. It is not easy to go down there and have your first start on a track that wasn't as good as what we hoped for,” he said.
“He is a lovely horse that just needs better ground and he will only improve with racing. I look forward to seeing him on top of the ground next time around but he has got a lot of ability.”
The Cambridge trainer could potentially be represented by the likes of White Noise and Mustang Valley in an Open Mile and a Rating 75 1400m race respectively at Hawke's Bay next weekend, but weather will dictate their participation.
“At this stage they are pencilled in but it depends what the track will be like. There are races for them at Te Rapa the following week if required,” Forsman said.