Consistent New Zealand stayer The Good Fight left his race rivals in his wake as he scooted clear in the home straight to take out the Group 3 Campbell Infrastructure Rotorua Cup (2200m) at Arawa Park on Saturday.
The six-year-old son of High Chaparral was having just his second run after a summer break following a disappointing showing in the Group 3 Wellington Cup (3200m) in January but stripped a fit horse for trainers Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray.
Settled in a handy position by rider Sam Collett, The Good Fight looked to be full of running when looming into contention at the 600m mark. Collett let him have his head on the home turn and The Good Fight bounded clear to crush his rivals in the last 300m, winning by five-lengths from Voler Pour Moi and Initiative who both ran on resolutely from well back in the pack.
Ritchie had been confident of a bold showing before the race but didn’t expect to see such a handsome winning margin.
“I’ve always felt he feels the harder tracks, but we’ve run him in the spring and summer as that is where the better money is for a staying horse like him,” he said.
“He had won quite easily on a heavy track earlier in his career, so we thought we’d put him away after the Wellington Cup and bring him back for a crack at a race like this.
“I think he loved it out there today as he just kept coming over the last 800m and looked good doing it.”
Ritchie was delighted with the ride by Collett who has been in a purple patch of form of late.
“Sam said to me before the race she was aware he hit flat spots in his races and that she was going to try and keep his momentum up when that happened,” Ritchie said.
“Her actual words were that he’s a lazy bugger and she’s right and even though she had him trucking along he still tried to pull up on her in the straight as he thought his job was done.”
Ritchie will now scan the racing calendar for further opportunities over the winter although he has an ambitious long-range plan for the horse.
“We had a go at the New Zealand Cup (Group 3, 3200m) at Riccarton last year, but the ground was just too firm for him,” he said.
“This time we’ve been thinking about the Jericho Cup (4600m) at Warrnambool in November as it tends to be run on a wet track.
“It’s a race worth over A$300,000 and we think he is just the type of horse that would be suited as long as we can get him qualified.
“There is a qualifying race at New Plymouth in September that we would target, but at this stage it is just one of the thoughts that we have for him.”
Restricted to Australian and New Zealand-bred horses, the Jericho Cup is the brainchild of philanthropist and historian Bill Gibbins to commemorate a race held in the desert in Palestine during World War I.
New Zealand-bred horses have dominated the event with the inaugural race in 2018 won by Redwood gelding High Mode while in 2019 it was Ablaze, a son of Raise The Flag who took first prize, while last year the winner was Count Zero who is a son of the Grangewilliam Stud-based stallion Zed.
This years’ Jericho Cup will be run at Warrnambool on November 28.
The Good Fight is out of the well-performed Zabeel mare Pravda, who won three times at stakes level and was runner-up in the 1999 Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m). He has now won four of his 29 starts and has earned over NZ$243,000 in prizemoney.