Rejuvenated galloper Brando demonstrated all his fighting qualities when he outlasted his rivals in a desperate finish to the Gr.2 City Of Palmerston North Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m).
Considered one of the most promising three-year-olds of his season after winning three of his first four starts before finishing runner-up in the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m), the now five-year-old son of Savabeel mixed his form in his next campaigns.
Given a break over the summer, the Mark Walker-trained runner returned with a win over 1200m at Tauranga in February which started a run of three victories from four starts including the Gr.2 Japan Trophy (1600m) at Tauranga on March 25.
Stepped up to 2000m for the first time in his 25-start career on Saturday, rider Opie Bosson played a patient hand during the contest as the lead changed hands on several occasions before the trio of The Mayor, Colorado Star and Times Ticking went to war at the 600m.
Bosson shot Brando through on the inside of the trio rounding the home bend before being hotly challenged by a brave Colorado Star and the late-finishing Kelly Coe for the final 150m, where he held the pair out by a length at the finish.
Te Akau Racing assistant trainer Sam Bergerson was overjoyed with the performance.
“If you had said we were going to be here two weeks ago, I would have laughed at you,” Bergerson said.
“It is a massive training effort by Mark as we never thought he would get a mile let alone 2000m.
“It was super effort by Opie to save ground against the rail and just so tough by the horse.”
Bergerson believes the confidence gained from winning has been a major factor behind the turnaround in the form of his charge.
“With a horse like this, when they win one they get a bit of confidence and he is loving himself at the moment,” he said.
“He has had a few issues and little things have gone wrong, but this season has all gone to plan.
“Opie is the best for a reason and it was a fantastic ride as he saved ground and that was the key to the win.
“This sets him up for next season as it is a huge win going forward.”
Bred by Fairdale Stud, Brando is raced by the Te Akau 2019 RTR Colt Syndicate after being purchased for $500,000 by Te Akau Racing boss David Ellis from the Riversley Park draft during the 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale at Karaka.
He hails from a family that includes Group One winners Headturner, O’Marilyn and Anacheeva.