Talented three-year-old The Gift proved too tough for her age group rivals at Wingatui on Saturday as she collected her first black-type success in the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m).
The Robert Dennis-trained daughter of Power had to settle for the runner-up position behind Showemhowitsdone in both the Listed Gore Guineas (1355m) and the Listed Dunedin Guineas (1500m) before battling into sixth off a wide run in the Listed Southland Guineas (1600m) at her last three starts.
Despite drawing handily in gate five for Saturday’s feature, rider Jacob Lowry found himself trapped three-wide during the early running. Lowry didn’t panic and allowed his mount to balance up before making an attacking move shortly before rounding the home bend.
Lowry went for the doctor at the top of the straight as he quickly shot The Gift clear. That proved the winning move as she dug deep in the final stages to comfortably hold out a late challenge from the previously unbeaten Larpower and stablemate Ocean Point.
Dennis has made no secret of his high regard for The Gift, who has now won four of her 11 starts.
“She is one tough filly and she showed that again today,” he said. “She has now had four starts in three weeks, all at black-type level and she is thriving.
“She didn’t get the best run today but thankfully Jacob managed to get a breather for her at just the right time in the mid-stages.
“When he asked her to go, she put a couple of lengths on them and held on very comfortably.”
Dennis was full of praise for Lowry who was having his first raceday ride on The Gift, although he wasn’t totally unfamiliar with her.
“I think Jacob may have ridden her in her first gallop way back in June last year,” he said. “He’s worked her a few times, but this was his first go on raceday and he did a great job.
“I think she can have a short breather now as her next target isn’t for five weeks.
“We’re looking at the three-year-old series at Riccarton and the first one there is the Listed 1600m on April 10.
“Ocean Point also went a super race after being held up a little in behind them.
“She looks as though more ground will suit her now, so I think we will try to get her up to 2000m in her next few starts.”
Lowry was confident he had his rivals covered a long way from home despite some early traffic issues.
“We ended up being caught a little wide, but I managed to drop in and get a breather just before the pace really went on,” he said.
“Once she got that, she just travelled beautifully and I think anyone watching the race wouldn’t have wanted to be on anything else turning for home.
“She had them covered and did it pretty easily in the end.”
Bred by Sir Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan, The Gift is out of the Dehere mare Trust and is the younger half-sister to four-race winner Super Hoof.
She comes from an extended family that includes dual Hong Kong Horse of the Year, Fairy King Prawn and Group One winning sprinter, Easy Rocking.