Topweight Vernanme proved too tough for his rivals when he produced a gritty effort to take out Saturday’s Listed Team Wealleans Matamata Cup (1600m).
The Stephen Marsh-trained six-year-old came into the race off a confidence boosting fresh-up run for third at Hastings last month, after trialling nicely before launching his spring campaign.
Asked to carry the 60kg topweight for the feature event at Matamata, rider Craig Grylls gave the son of O’Reilly an economic run in the trail behind pacemaker Crystallize throughout before angling one-off the fence in the home straight to make his challenge.
Vernanme hit the front at the 250m and slowly edged away from a game Crystallize to win nicely by just over a length with the well-supported Frontman a margin back in third.
Marsh, who was at home in his Cambridge lounge due to the COVID19 border restrictions preventing him attending the Matamata track, was delighted to see Vernanme back to winning form.
“That was just awesome as he had 60kgs on his back and won it like the good horse he is,” Marsh said.
“He has been quite an immature type all the way along, but I think he has finally started to put it all together now.
“It was a lovely ride by Craig as he never spent a penny on the inside and only asked him to make one run in the straight.
“Actually, at the 500m I was pretty worried as Frontman looked like he was travelling easily and had a 5kg pull in the weights on us, but my guy got his momentum up and did it very well in the closing stages.”
Marsh will now give Vernanme a few easy days before deciding on his next target, which is likely to be the Group 2 Gartshore Tauranga Stakes (1600m) on November 13.
“He goes his best races on the fresh side and doesn’t really take big campaigns, so we will just poke around with him and freshen him up now,” he said.
“That Group Two mile at Tauranga looks ideal for him, although we might consider the Listed mile (Karaka Classic) at Pukekohe at the end of the month if he is getting too frisky out in his paddock.”
Marsh was keen to make it a black-type double in the space of thirty minutes when he lined up Loose Cannon in the Group 3 Wyndspelle @ Grangewilliam Stud Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Hawera, however a testing heavy10 surface put paid to her chances after she looked a hope on the point of the home bend.
“Loose Cannon deserves to get some black type, but she just never handled that track down there as she was ducking and diving all over the place when the rider let her head go,” he said.
“She will keep as she is going better than ever, so we just need to find another stakes race for her.”
Vernanme is out of the five-race winner Bohemian Blues and is a full brother to multiple Group One winner Shamrocker and a half-brother of Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) winner Rock Diva.
He has now won five of his 24 starts and over NZD$209,000 in prizemoney.