Humbucker delivered a compelling argument for a return trip to the North Island when he proved superior to his rivals at the Phar Lap Raceway on Wednesday.
The genuine son of Iffraaj produced a career-best performance to claim the Listed Craigmore Sustainable Holdings Timaru Cup (1600m) and boost his chances of competing for high honours.
Humbucker holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 28 and is almost certain to make the trip.
“He’s a super horse and we’re definitely looking at going up there,” trainer Ellis Winsloe said.
“At this stage I don’t think he will need another run, but I’ll get him home and see how he is.”
Humbucker was caught wide early before he settled one off the pace in fourth spot and was angled wide at the top of the straight by rider Kylie Williams.
The six-year-old rounded off strongly in the closing 200m to deny frontrunner Monza Circuito success in her final outing while The Buffer boxed on well for third after racing close to the action.
It was a gallant swansong performance from the Showcasing mare Monza Circuito, who won seven races including the Listed Timaru Stakes (1600m).
“She’s in foal to Ribchester and has been a very good mare and she’s gone out on a good note,” trainer Stephen Marsh said.
Humbucker began his career with Peter and Dawn Williams at Byerley Park and was a maiden winner at Ellerslie before he relocated to Southland and has added a further three wins and collected multiple placings from his new quarters.
“He’s a big, headstrong lad and can be quite a hard horse to handle,” Winsloe said.
“The change of environment has suited him and he hasn’t put a foot wrong for me, he’s been something special even with his wee quirks.”
Humbucker is raced by an ownership group that includes Alison Hazlett, a member of one of New Zealand’s most famous racing families.
“I got him for Alison and she wanted something ready to go to the races and the other ones in the syndicate are mates of hers,” Winsloe said.
“The Hazletts are a great racing family and have been with me all the way through.”
Earlier in the program, Emanon stepped briefly out of the shadow of her Group One-winning half-sister Legarto to post a tough win.
The Burgundy four-year-old sat three wide on the pace in the Kings Shoe Store & Go Racing Handicap (1200m) and knuckled down gallantly for rider Diego Montes des Oca for her fifth career victory.
Emanon, who was backing up from an unplaced run in the Listed Hazlett Stakes (1200m) on Boxing Day, is trained by part-owner Lionel Dobbs.
She was bred by Bay of Plenty farmer Warwick Jeffries, whose decision to send the dam Geordie Girl to Proisir a year later resulted in the unbeaten Legarto.
She won the Gr.2 Eight Carat Classic (1400m) on Sunday in her first appearance since coasting away with the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) and is the current $1.60 favourite for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).