Rising ten-year-old Irish Excuse peeled back the years as he gave his rivals weight and a beating to land his 16th career victory when taking out a rating 93 1200m contest at Riccarton. Punters had expected the Ellis Winsloe-trained gelding to need his first-up run but he belied their lack of confidence with a dashing display that saw him haul in the Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained Whale Song in the closing stages to nail a thrilling victory.
Whale Song had taken a clear lead at the 300m but apprentice Rohan Mudhoo, who claimed 2kgs to reduce the topweight’s impost to 61kgs, wound his mount up strongly to land the win for a delighted Winsloe despite some anxious moments before the race.
“He’s a very good horse with the record to prove it but I was a little worried after I arrived at the course,” he said. “There weren’t enough stalls available so he and my other horse Nomen Ludi had to stand on the float for an hour or more so I didn’t know if that would prove his downfall as he sweated up a bit. “Luckily, he’s been around and it didn’t really worry him so he was okay but it’s not a situation that you would like to see repeated.”
Like most trainers, Winsloe had his autumn plans for Irish Excuse thwarted by the Covid-19 pandemic with Saturday’s resumption definitely Plan C for the horse. “We had a throw at the Tapanui Cup over ground back in December but it didn’t work out,” Winsloe said. “The plan then was to get him back for the open sprint at the National meeting in August but with what has happened that got thrown up in the air as well. “We kept him ticking along at home and had a go today, although I’m not sure what the handicapper is going to do to him now.
“I have been waiting for the stake money announcements to come out as I have been thinking about taking him, Nomen Ludi and my jumper Tai Ho to the North Island. “There’s no jumping races for Tai Ho in the south so he will head up to Waverley to get set for those North Island jumps meetings while the other two could go with him for some flat races but that all depends on what the prize money is going to be. “We are a little on the fence until that is all announced.”
The victory also provided Mudhoo with the first of a winning treble as he took out the next event on the programme with a bold front-running ride aboard the Mike McCann-trained Gee Tee Eleanor before guiding progressive galloper Frankie The Fox to a comfortable win for McCann just two races later.