Cambridge trainer Ben Foote finished off the 2022 calendar year in fine style as he picked up a winning double at Hastings on Saturday with a pair of promising three-year-olds.
The victories couldn’t have come in more contrasting fashion as Wrote filly Nancy She Wrote came from a clear last at the 600m in race two to bury her rivals in the final 100m with a powerful surge, while Charm Spirit gelding Beautiful Spirit led all the way to hold out another Cambridge debutant in Run Baby Run by a nose in a desperate finish to race four.
Both were ridden by Michael McNab, who brought up a winning treble with the win by Beautiful Spirit after guiding local mare Oh No No No to her second career victory from last on the turn in the third race on the card.
Foote had been looking for an improved performance from Nancy She Wrote after she had struck plenty of trouble in her first two runs and got just what he wanted.
“I said to Michael I didn’t really care if she won, I just wanted to see her get an uninterrupted passage and to be hitting the line well,” he said.
“She has oodles of talent but to say she is a work in progress is an understatement.
“Her last start at Te Rapa was a disaster and yet she still ran some of the quickest sectionals, so I was convinced she has what it takes as long as she can get her manners right.”
Bred and raced by publican Gerald Bell under his Marthas Kitchen banner, Nancy She Wrote holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham in March, with Foote keen to see if he can get her to the race.
“We threw in a nomination for the Oaks as I think she is a dead set stayer in the making,” Foote said.
“I haven’t really thought about how we will get her to the race as she has been such a handful so far, but if she can get a few manners sorted out, then she could be quite a progressive stayer in the making.”
While the win by Beautiful Spirit was a polar opposite to the way Nancy She Wrote went about her task, there was still one factor that both horses had in common according to Foote.
“We thought we could win with both horses, but Beautiful Spirit tried his hardest to throw it all away,” he said.
“It may have looked as though he was getting tired at the end, but when Michael spoke to me after the race, he couldn’t believe how dumb the horse had been.
“He basically said he had shied at just about everything in the home straight and when he put his mind back on the job, he went off again approaching the winning post.
“All in all, it was a nice win and hopefully he can learn a lot from the experience as we have a fair bit of time for him.”
Foote has finished the year strongly with three wins in the space of eight days and he is hoping that luck can continue when he lines up Babylon Berlin in the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Te Rapa on Sunday.
“We’ve been waiting for this race for such a long time and the final piece of the puzzle fell into place when she drew barrier two,” he said.
“It is a red-hot field, but I believe we are right amongst the major chances and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.”