Trainer Emma-Lee Browne was still sporting a smile a mile wide on Sunday morning following the winning double that she and husband David picked up at Te Rapa on Saturday. The Cambridge couple had just the two runners entered for the day and managed to book-end the programme when taking out the first event with progressive galloper Elephant and then closing out the day with a win by promising stayer Gone West.
“It was a really great day for the stable and we’re very happy,” Browne said. “It was pretty exciting as we went there thinking we had two good chances. “You are always hoping it is going to work out well and luckily for us it did.”
Browne had been apprehensive about Shocking four-year-old Elephant facing a sharp rise in company after winning his first two starts, but those fears were relieved courtesy of a picture-perfect effort from leading rider Opie Bosson. “It was a real test for him at just his third start and he was still a little green around the corners, but Opie handled him really well,” she said.
“Halfway up the straight I was thinking whether he was going to hit top gear, but he closed off strongly which was so good to see. “Opie was very happy with him and very complimentary which gives us plenty of confidence going forward.”
Browne will now point her charge towards the Ellerslie meeting on January 10 before making a decision about a start in the Group 1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham three weeks later. “His win yesterday was in a qualifying race for the Stella Artois Final (1500m), which is run at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. But he wasn’t nominated for that series, so he won’t be going there,” Browne said.
“There’s a nice race for him at Ellerslie over 1500m on January 10, so he can go there and then we can assess after that. “He does hold a nomination for the Thorndon Mile but that is really only because you have to put those noms in so early on. “It’s kind of hard not to consider it when they are going so well, but we will play it by ear as he is still on a steep learning curve.”
Browne’s other winner on the day is heading to the Ellerslie Christmas Carnival with Gone West securing a place in the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final (2400m) on New Year’s Day after his victory in a qualifying event. The win came off the back of a disappointing finish at his previous start which Browne puts down to a lack of tempo on the day.
“He (Gone West) is just a natural, out and out stayer,” she said. “When he gets in the clear he really lets down, but as he is such a big horse he just doesn’t sprint straight away, rather he needs time to wind up. “He copped a decent bump in the straight and I thought that might take the stuffing out of him, but he fought on really well. “I was just rapt to see him bounce back after a head scratcher last time, as I wanted him to go well to prove it was just a forget type of run off a slow tempo and he was one hundred percent. “He has pulled up really well so we will go to the Dunstan Final, which is exciting as it’s great to be a part of that carnival.”
While Browne has mapped out the immediate targets for her two stars, she does face the prospect of whether they continue to race locally or roll the dice and tackle the more lucrative prizemoney on offer in Australia. “At the moment we are going to concentrate on racing both horses here in New Zealand,” Browne said. “I love going to Australia and racing horses over there, but I think they both will be better with a little more maturity on their side.
“With Elephant in particular, he needs more ringcraft before we think about heading over there but we are definitely thinking about our options longer term. “Gone West is a really relaxed horse who won’t be fazed by travelling so Australia does present an exciting prospect, but that might be a little further down the track.”