Masetto back to top form with Ruakaka victory

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Talented New Zealand galloper Masetto returned to winning form with a vengeance at Ruakaka on Saturday as he blitzed his rivals to take out the feature flat event on the card, the MWIS Lawyers Bream Bay Cup (2100m).

Having just his third run for new trainer Allan Smith, the five-year-old son of Cape Blanco looped the field from the 800m in the hands of apprentice Eilish McCall to join issue with pacemaker Big Mike at the top of the straight.

Masetto showed no signs of stopping as he charged clear to win easing down by five and half-lengths from Steven James, with Big Mike clinging gamely to third.

Smith, who is a full-time driver for Premier Horse Transport along with preparing a small team of just five horses from his Ardmore Lodge base, was thrilled with the victory and especially for owners David and Elizabeth Olsen, who bred the horse from their Group 2 Waikato Cup (2400m) and dual Group One placed mare Passchendaele.

“That was a fantastic win from a very promising horse,” Smith said.

“I’m just so pleased for David and Elizabeth, who gave me this horse to train after I had leased his half-sister, Rusalka, from them and won a race with her.

“He (Masetto) had had a few small issues including a virus and was also a bit sore in his feet, so I’ve just taken him along slowly, mucked around a little with him and just brought him up to where he is feeling pretty good about life.”

Smith had been encouraged by a solid last start performance by the horse in finishing second over 1600m at Te Rapa and went into Saturday’s contest with some confidence.

“He’s a horse that needs good ground to perform and he went a handy race for seventh first up on a slow track at Te Rapa,” he said.

“He then struck better footing there last time and really came home nicely for second so I thought he was a good chance if the track was okay at Ruakaka.

“The Dead6 surface was just perfect for him, he woke up in a good mood on Saturday morning and he performed up to his best for a very convincing win.”

Smith will now discuss with his owners the way forward for Masetto over the next few months but would like to space his races while the winter tracks are in effect.

“At this time of the year he is probably best suited at either Te Rapa or Ruakaka, so that does narrow his options down a little,” he said.

“There is another cup race at Ruakaka in a month so that would be a good target, but it will all depend on what David and Elizabeth want to do with him.

“If we can keep him ticking over and on top of his issues then I think some of those better summer Cups races are definitely within his scope.”

In the meantime, Smith will carry on combining his training activities with his truck driving commitments.

“I get up early in the mornings and do the horses then head off to work in the truck,” he said.

“It can make for some long days, but I enjoy it and get a real kick out of winning a race when I can.

“It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a big race or a maiden victory as a win is still a win no matter how you get it.”

Masetto has now won four of his 21 starts while he has also been stakes placed in both the Group 2 Waikato Cup (2400m) and the Group 3 Trentham Stakes (2100m).

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