Enigmatic galloper Hail Damage brought the pain to her six rivals when she out-toughed them all in a rugged staying display to run out the winner of the feature race at Hastings on Saturday.
The Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray-trained six-year-old daughter of Westbury Stud resident sire Reliable Man was on her best behaviour as she chased hard after free-going pacemaker Exquisite Pearl for most of the 2200m journey of the benchmark 75 contest before taking control at the top of the straight.
Apprentice Tayla Mitchell set sail for home on Hail Damage and established a two-length break on her rivals at that point. Despite getting tired in the closings stages she refused to yield as she held out local runner Dictation to claim her fourth career victory by a neck with Hesacitiboy a head away in third.
Ritchie was delighted to pick up another victory with the mare who he describes as honest as the day is long.
“She is no superstar but she will always give you everything she has,” Ritchie said.
“She lacks a turn of foot and tends to run at the same speed throughout, but she really suits the female apprentices who can sit on her and let her roll.
“It was a lovely ride by Tayla and it is a nice feeling to pick up the race of the day on a Saturday with her.”
The victory provided the middle leg of a winning treble for Mitchell who had earlier taken out race five aboard Free Bee before claiming the last race on the card aboard The Woman King.
A $55,000 purchase out of Westbury Stud’s Book 2 draft by Ritchie at Karaka in 2018, Hail Damage is out of the unraced Zabeel mare, Betty Blockbuster and is the granddaughter of outstanding Australian racemare Inaflury who numbered the Gr.1 One Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield amongst her nine career victories.
Ritchie also advised that progressive galloper Regazzo had come through his winning run at Te Rapa on December 17 in fine fettle as he works towards a long-term plan of gaining a start in the Gr.3 Easter Handicap (1600m) during the autumn.
“He (Regazzo) will have his next run in mid-January at Te Rapa and then probably will line up in a grade race there in early February,” Ritchie said.
“I think he is the type to be very competitive in a good mile if he gets in with a light weight so we have a race like the Easter Handicap in mind, but we don’t want to rush him and will just try and go through the grades along the way.”
Ritchie is also delighted with the development of the unbeaten Tavistock mare Pearl of Alsace who has won her first two starts and will be seen in action again at Pukekohe on January 8.