Mark Walker and the Te Akau Racing team brought up an inter-island stakes double in the space of 15 minutes as Perfect Scenario took out the Group 3 White Robe Lodge (1600m) at Wingatui hot on the heels of Family Ties scoring in the Listed Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth.
Walker had been well represented at both meetings but had to wait until late in the day before adding to his outstanding tally of 21 stakes wins for the season to date.
Walker saddled up race favourite Prise De Fer for the traditional Group Three Wingatui feature, with Perfect Scenario expected to play second fiddle to his more illustrious stablemate.
That scenario was turned on its head when Prise De Fer got back to last in the 11-horse field and never looked to be travelling at any stage. In contrast, rider Joe Kamaruddin followed a path along the inside rail on Perfect Scenario in a strongly run race and never went around a runner as he lodged his challenge at the 300m.
The five-year-old son of Iffraaj burst clear and made it a one-horse affair in the final stages as he won by three lengths from Live Drama and Rock Sensation.
Te Akau Racing Assistant trainer Sam Bergerson was thrilled by the result although he wasn't too sure what had happened with the -111.11 favourite Prise De Fer.
“That is a fantastic result for the horse as he has been such an honest performer for us and deserved to get a win like this,” Bergerson said.
“I also thought it was a sensational ride by Joe as he rode for luck and it paid off for him.
“There was some talk that the inside was off and we should look to go wide.
“Joe backed himself and when he got the inside run and burst clear it was all over and it is such a memorable win in an iconic race.
“I don't know what to make of Prise De Fer as Jason (Laking, rider) said he put in a few short strides after the start and raced a bit dour.
“It may have been the heat that has affected him as it is very hot here today and that really dried the track out and made it quite firm for the last few races.”
Bergerson spoke with Walker after the race regarding the next target for the winner, with a possible Group One opportunity on the cards.
“Mark thought there wasn't much left for him down here so he and Prise De Fer might make their way home via the weight-for age Classic (Group 1, 1600m) at Otaki later this month,” he said.
“That will obviously depend on how they pull up, but that race is definitely an option to look at.”
Perfect Scenario has now won six of his 24 starts for the Te Akau Perfection Syndicate after being purchased by Te Akau Racing boss David Ellis for $165,000 from the Woburn Farm draft during the 2019 Book 1 Sale at Karaka.
Earlier rugged three-year-old filly Family Ties threw her hat into the ring for the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham next month when she produced a strong staying effort to claim the Listed Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth on Saturday.
In the hands of Opie Bosson, the Mark Walker-trained Contributer filly settled well in midfield but had plenty of horseflesh in front of her as a number of her rivals swooped into contention at the 600m.
Bosson didn't panic and picked a path between runners before diving to the inside to lodge his claim inside the final furlong. With Bosson driving hard, Family Ties hit top gear and forged clear to defeat The Woman King and Klairelle to register her second victory and first at stakes level.
Te Akau Racing Manager Reece Trumper was on hand at New Plymouth and revealed the stable has an opinion of the filly as a potential stayer.
“We think she is a filly that goes better with some cut in the track and she has struck a perfect deck for her today,” Trumper said.
“We'll see how she gets through this but she is nominated for the Oaks and with her pedigree we know she is going to get that trip (2400m).”
A $60,000 purchase by David Ellis during the 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale, Family Ties becomes the fifth individual stakes winner for her sire Contributer, a son of High Chaparral, who stands at Mapperley Stud in the Waikato.
She is out of the Pins mare Glamazon and hails from an extended family that includes Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) winner Savapinski.