Successful in the first two-year-old race of the season back in September, Cambridge colt Sai Fah proved his durability when he took out the season’s final black-type feature, the Listed Courtesy Ford Ryder Stakes (1200m) at Otaki on Saturday. The Stephen Marsh-trained galloper had indicated he was in fine fettle for the late-season challenge when successful over 1100m at Te Rapa seven days ago.
National Jockey’s premiership leader, Lisa Allpress took over in the saddle from Michael Coleman and produced a peach of a ride as she brought up her 1500th New Zealand career victory. Sent forward from an outside barrier, Sai Fah settled nicely, albeit four-wide on the speed, before issuing a challenge on the point of the home turn. Despite wanting to hang in badly the Rios colt proved too tough for his rivals in the run home as he held out a late burst from Te Rapa visitor Flaunting to score a deserved victory.
Allpress was feeling suitably pleased with the result after bringing up her career milestone. “That’s pretty special, although numbers are just a thing as I’m out there to win every race I go in, a stakes race is always a little bit more special,” Allpress said. “The plan was to sit outside the leader although I don’t think he (Marsh) meant five wide.
“I was thinking there was going to be an interesting text when I got back in. Up the straight I was thinking I will have both Danielle (Johnson) and Stephen riding this one so it was just very pleasing to get him to the line. “He just tried so hard and you can see that the track conditions are really really bad and he was struggling, but he just kept giving. “I think he is going to be better on top of the ground so it’s a true testament to the horse as he’s very tough.”
Sai Fah is the third foal of Fast ‘n’ Famous mare, Rongonui and was purchased for $6,000 by owners the Mission Downs Trust from Waikato Stud’s 2017 National Weanling Sale draft. The colt has now won three of his eight career starts.
The win also edged Marsh closer to the 100-win mark for the season as he now sits on 97 victories with just the Tauranga meeting next Wednesday to round out the 2018/19 racing season.