Local trainers Kenny Rae and his daughter Krystal Williams-Tuhoro made the best possible start to their day when they produced a winning double to open proceedings at Ruakaka on Saturday. Just thirty minutes after two-year-old Zelenski upset the applecart when downing hot favourite Jager Bombed over 1000m in the first race on the day, lightly raced filly Viola Vega led all the way to capture race two, a 1200m maiden three-year-old contest.
Making it a truly special double for all concerned was the fact that both horses were sired by Rich Hill Stud-based stallion Shocking and are both bred and owned by long-time stable client, Lars Pearson. Whilst both horses produced top-class efforts it was the performance of Zelenski that really caught the eye as the strapping gelding showed he had taken plenty of improvement out of his first-up run for third at the venue earlier in the month.
Rider Trudy Thornton bounced her mount away nicely from an inside barrier draw to track the solid speed set up by the two race-winners in the event, stablemate Diva Express and Jager Bombed. Angled into the clear by Thornton, Zelenski knuckled down nicely to out-finish Jager Bombed to take the victory, seemingly with plenty of petrol left in the tank.
Rae was pleased with the victory as he looks ahead to next season with his charge. “I just told Trudy, please don’t push him too hard as this horse is going to go further than just a two- year-old,” he said. “He shouldn’t even be a two-year-old. “He’s very promising. “The other horse (Diva Express) probably had to work a bit hard to keep the favourite out but she will keep, this guy (Zelenski) will go a long way.”
Thornton echoed Rae’s thoughts on the future prospects for Zelenski. “He’s a very nice, talented animal who is still learning and very green,” she said. “He’s got a bright future and a lot of natural ability. “The further he goes the better he is going to be.”
Rae had also been confident of a bold showing from Viola Vega and so it proved as she provided rider Rowena Smyth with an armchair ride in front. “I told Rowena that she does have ability and can run so when the penny drops, she will win races,” Rae said. “She can gallop and just needs to get her head turned around a little bit.”