Specialty returned to winning ways at Wingatui on Saturday with a dominant performance in the Listed Dunedin Guineas (1500m) to revive future Group One hopes.
The son of Rip Van Winkle had finished a beaten favourite at his previous appearance in Rating 75 company at Gore after racing three wide and laying in under pressure, but he turned his form around in fine style in the Nellies Bar & Restaurant-sponsored age group feature.
The addition of blinkers and a firmer surface were also instrumental in Specialty recapturing his best form and boosted confidence ahead of a planned trip north.
“He’ll go to Invercargill first for the Southland Guineas (Listed, 1600m) and then on to Wellington,” said Bruce Tapper, who trains in partnership with Varma Ramhit.
The Guineas will be run at Ascot Park on February 18 and the northern target is the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) to be run a month later.
Specialty settled midfield and one off the fence before regular rider Brandon May urged the gelding around runners near the turn.
They strode to the front 200m from home and romped clear to beat the hot favourite Romancing The Moon by a length and a half with Charbano a distant third.
“Brandon said if he didn’t hang out a bit he would have on the steel,” Tapper said.
“The blinkers helped him as well and so did the firm track, he needs good going.”
Specialty showed his quality last preparation when he won the Gr.3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m) at Ashburton and then finished fifth and less than three lengths off the winner Pier in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).
“He’s nothing to look at, but he just gets out there and gets it done,” Tapper said.
Specialty is raced by Tapper’s son Aaron, who operates Clearview Park Stud at Timaru and home to the Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) winner Jon Snow.
“We used Dad’s mare (Rio Tennille) to breed him and used G1 Goldmine and Rip Van Winkle was the best match so it’s a big thrill and Brandon gave him a great ride,” Aaron Tapper said.
“We had him entered in the New Zealand Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) until that last race at Gore and we pulled him out.”
Tapper was buoyed by Saturday’s result after enduring a disappointing time at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale.
He was forced to withdraw a half-brother by Time Test to the Gr.3 Winter Cup winner Timy Tyler and sold an Embellish colt for $23,500, a daughter of War Decree for $9000 and a son of Jon Snow for $16,000 while a filly by his resident sire was passed in.
“I’m flying out of Tauranga tomorrow afternoon and I can’t wait to get home, it was a bit of a shocking sale for me but that happens sometimes,” Tapper said