A decision to bypass a start in an open 2100m event at Te Rapa on Saturday with enigmatic New Zealand stayer Swords Drawn paid a handsome dividend when the six-year-old stormed home from near last to capture the Listed Power Farming Hawke's Bay Cup (2200m) at Hastings.
The Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray-trained son of Camelot had finished a meritorious fifth behind Uareastar in the Group 2 Auckland Cup (3200m) at his last start and relished a steady pace set up by local mare Mohaka throughout Saturday's contest.
Apprentice Joe Kamaruddin settled his mount near the rear of the twelve-horse field and bided his time before tracking into the race at the 600m.
Taken to the outside by Kamaruddin, Swords Drawn produced a sustained burst to run down Leaderboard in the shadows of the post, with Aquaoir finishing off nicely to take third.
“He deserved that, to win a stakes race, as he has been thereabouts in these types of races before,” Ritchie said.
“He likes the tracks when there is a bit of juice in them and that track was just perfect for him today.
“We brought him down on Friday with stablemate Badgers Nuts, who we thought could go close and he ended up running second, so to get a win as well caps off a pretty good day.
“He has a terrific record on the track with three wins from six starts now and I thought it was also a tremendous ride by Joe, as he tracked up behind Leaderboard and then popped off his back to run him down in the last bit.”
Ritchie did have some doubts about whether the horse was in the right space to win the race after walking a tightrope in freshening him up after his Auckland Cup effort without reducing his fitness levels.
“You always worry when they are having their first run after a two-mile race,” he said.
“Luckily, he didn't have a real gut buster in the Auckland Cup and a wee while in the paddock did him the world of good.
“We've just got him right now and he likes to have his races spaced so we might have to consider something in Australia next.
“I don't think he is a true two-miler so a race like the Andrew Ramsden (Listed, 2800m) at Flemington next month might be a good target or maybe a mile and half in Sydney on the wet tracks they are getting there.”
Raced by a group that includes long-term stable clients Rod Duke and Gerard Peterson, Swords Drawn was purchased by Ritchie for NZD$140,000 out of the Cambridge Stud draft at the 2017 Premier Yearling Sale at Karaka.
He has now won six of his 34 starts and over NZD$300,000 in prizemoney.