Leading Central Districts rider Johnathan Parkes capped a magnificent day at the office when he rode four winners at Awapuni, including the main event on the card, the Listed Rangitikei Cup (1550m) aboard Justaskme.
After taking the first race aboard the Mike Breslin-trained Papa Surf, Parkes brought up career win number 1000 when taking race two on the Mark Walker-trained Fellini.
Parkes wasn’t finished there, winning race six on the Peter Didham-prepared Fabian Hawk but saved his best for the Listed feature as he guided the Allan Sharrock-trained Justaskme to a hollow victory.
Sharrock had exuded some pre-race confidence after the seven-year-old son of No Excuse Needed had finished off powerfully when runner-up to One Bold Cat last start and with the blinkers applied for the first time in this campaign, he looked an obvious candidate for top honours, albeit carrying topweight of 60kgs.
Parkes obliged with a superb effort, seizing the initiative on the wet track specialist by swooping to the front out wide at the 600m as the bulk of his rivals struggled on the Heavy 10 surface.
Kept up to the mark by Parkes, Justaskme went further in front as the pair approached the winning post, cruising home by five lengths over race favourite Mary Louise and taking his career record to ten wins from just 31 starts and more than $373,000 in prizemoney.
“I didn’t think we could give Mary Louise (53kgs) that much weight and beat her,” Sharrock said.
“As it turned out he did it in a canter and shows just what a special horse he is.
“Parkesy said that when he let him go coming to the turn, he just went woosh and it was a done deal at that stage.
“The way he had worked during the week gave me plenty of confidence and he finds a few lengths when we put the blinkers on so there was plenty in our favour despite the weight he had to carry.”
Justaskme was bred by Sharrock, who co-owns him with his brother Bruce and former Kiwi rugby league international, Tony Kemp.
The Taranaki conditioner was quite emotional after the victory as he described just how much the horse means to him.
“He is just one of those horses that you have a soft spot for and it’s just fantastic to see him back winning again,” he said.
“He is at the stage now where he gets weighted out of most things so his main aim is the weight-for-age at Wanganui next month, then we might tick along and hope they get a wet spring at Hastings and we can have a crack at the early Group Ones there.
“He could also go to the Winter Cup (Group 3, 1600m) at Riccarton before that, as it is a maximum topweight of 60kgs, but that is a bit of a gamble as if he struck a firm track it would bugger up your chances at Hastings.”
The Listed AGC Training Stakes (1600m) will be held at Wanganui on June 3 while Riccarton’s traditional winter flat feature, the Group 3 Winter Cup (1600m), is run on August 5.