Lightly raced galloper Martell lived up to his trainer’s expectations when he downed a handy field of three-year-olds over 1100m at Te Rapa.
Prepared at Matamata by Jim Collett, the son of Westbury Stud resident stallion El Roca had impressed winning first up on heavy ground in maiden company at Rotorua last November before failing to cope with a firm surface at the same venue a month later.
Collett put him aside for a summer break and after finishing an unlucky fourth back at Rotorua again last month he returned to winning form in fine style on Saturday.
Allowed to find his feet in the early stages by rider Jasmine Fawcett, Martell was still a conspicuous last as the field rounded the home bend.
Taken to the outside by Fawcett, Martell unwound powerfully to gather in the pacemakers at the 150m as he out-finished Taranaki visitor Librarsi to win by more than a length at the line.
Collett was delighted to see his charge perform so capably on the testing Heavy10 surface.
“He’s a very handy horse and he loves the wet ground,” Collett said.
“He was very unlucky first-up in this campaign as he didn’t get a lot of room in the run home, so there was a fair bit of confidence today that he would improve on that.
“He won his maiden on a similar wet track at Rotorua, but I made a mistake running him there a month later on a very hard track as he just doesn’t cope that well when it is dry.
“We put him aside and let him get over that, while he really grew into himself at the same time.
“It is quite surprising that he does like it so wet but that’s what we are going to strike for the next few months and it is good to have one who likes those conditions.”
Collett doesn’t have any firm plans for the Gerry Harvey-bred and raced runner although he does think that there is far better in store for him.
“We will play it by ear a little and just see how he develops,” he said.
“I could have run him the rating 65 grade but he would have had to carry 59kgs so the three-year-old race held much more appeal.
“We might look for another race with similar conditions and maybe tip him out again and get him ready for the spring.
“Those spring tracks can be pretty wet as well and with the upside I can see in him I think he could get to a fairly good level.”
Martell is out of the four-race winning mare Myrcella who is a half-sister to the well performed dual Australian Group Two winner Fontalina, who also finished runner-up in the Gr.1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).
The race provided a highlight for Westbury Stud owner Harvey who also bred and races the Allan Sharrock-trained runner-up Librarsi.