Talented galloper Brando was back in the winner’s circle at Ellerslie on Sunday, taking out the HR Fiskens & Sons Ltd 1400 at his first start since being gelded.
The four-year-old son of Savabeel finished runner-up in last season’s Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) but outside of a fresh-up victory at Te Rapa last October, subsequently failed to show his best.
Trapped wide early in the six-horse field, jockey Opie Bosson opted to press forward to sit outside eventual third placegetter Irish Girl and kicked clear in the straight to win by a comfortable two lengths from runner-up Tellall.
“He’d had the big gear change, having his first run as a gelding which is obviously a big help to some horses, particularly as four-year-olds,” trainer Jamie Richards said.
“Outside the leader, he was in the perfect spot with the rail out 12 metres and he duly quickened up and won well.
“It’s a good confidence boosting win for him and we’ll get him home and have a look through the book for another suitable race.
“He’s always been a horse that’s shown plenty of promise, quite effective right-handed and some of his best wins have been this way around.”
Richards will consider a tilt at the Gr.1 El Cheapo Cars WFA Group One Classic (1600m) with the handsome gelding.
Later on the card Richards saddled progressive mare Campionessa to win the Dunstan Feeds 1600, the fourth win from nine starts for the four-year-old daughter of Contributer.
Both Brando and Campionessa were sourced by Te Akau Principal David Ellis, with the astute judge outlaying $500,000 for Brando at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale from the Riversley Park draft, while Mapperley Stud graduate Campionessa was sourced for A$60,000 at the Gold Coast.
The double continued a successful weekend for New Zealand’s leading stable, with I Wish I Win successful in the Little Avondale Big On Winning Premier 1400 at Trentham on Saturday, setting him up for another stakes tilt.
The Savabeel three-year-old will likely contest the Gr.3 Mufhasa Fasttrack Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie on March 5, with the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham a fortnight later the long-range target.