Promising three-year-old Leroy Brown sang a winning tune at Tauranga on Saturday as he broke his maiden status despite attempting to throw the victory away with some wayward home straight actions.
The Stephen Ralph-trained son of Ace High spent most of the last 300m of the 1400m contest staring at the outside rail after veering hard left rounding the home bend under apprentice rider Gareth Lahoud.
Lahoud stayed calm as he balanced his mount up for a final effort and finished strongly to snatch victory by half a length from Charmer and Tossuforit who stayed much closer to the inside of the Soft5 rated track.
Ralph has plenty of faith in the ability of his charge who he believes has the potential to be a contender for higher honours as he matures.
“We’ve always rated him as a good horse and run him the open grade three-year-old races as we think he is up to that level,” Ralph said.
“Last time at Hastings he ran fourth after being pushed off the track and before that at Pukekohe he spent most of the race gawking around at everything around him.
“We just need to get the brain right as he has plenty of ability and I think just needs more racing as experience will do him the world of good.
“Gareth did the right thing, didn’t panic and when he got him going, he told me there was plenty left in the tank at the finish.”
Ralph said the phone had been ringing for weeks with offers from prospective buyers however at present owner Keith Parsons, a retired Hamilton businessman, was happy to reject the advances as he sets his sights on a Group One prize.
“The phone has been hot and I expect that will increase after today,” Ralph said.
“I’ve talked it over with his owner and he is keen to retain the horse as he has always had a desire to win the Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) and we think this is a horse who could give him a real shot at it.
“The Derby is not until March so there is plenty of water to go under the bridge before then, but I think when this guy learns what it is all about you will see a pretty smart galloper.”
Bred and raced by Parsons under his Parsons Bloodstock banner, Leroy Brown is out of the Savabeel mare Zizi and is the younger sibling of race winners Mersey Beat and Don’t Look Ethel.
He comes from an extended family with a strong European flavour including French Group One middle distance winners Agent Double and Air De Cour.