Local trainer Sally McKay got the win she has long desired when progressive three-year-old Palmetto proved to good for his rivals as he strode clear to take out the Listed ILT Ascot Park Hotel Southland Guineas (1600m) at Invercargill.
McKay, who prepares a small team from her Ascot Park base had made it clear in the build-up to the feature race at the Invercargill meeting that this was the race she had always wanted to win and had the belief that the leggy son of Ghibellines was just the horse for the job.
Sent out at restrictive odds ($2) following a stunning win in the Listed Dunedin Guineas (1500m) at his last start, Palmetto and rider Shankar Muniandy put together a masterclass to take the win on a Slow7 track that was playing in favour of the frontrunners on the day.
Muniandy allowed Palmetto to find his feet in midfield before tracking into the race at the 600m as he stalked the leaders out three wide but with cover.
Taking the bull by the horns Muniandy sent Palmetto to the front on the point of the home turn and he dashed away before easing up to win clearly by three lengths from Beau Rouge, who ran on well along the inner and No Bouquet.
McKay, who was busy fulfilling her duties as the clerk of the course at the meeting, had a beaming smile as she led her pride and joy back to the winners’ enclosure.
“That was just icing on the cake really as he is such a lovely horse and this was the race I dearly wanted to win,” she said.
“I was able to sit up at the top of the straight and watch the race, which was a great thrill.
“I had said to Shankar beforehand I didn’t want to see him unlucky as I’ve had bad luck cost me this race before.
“He rode him so well and put him in the race at just the right time.
“He came back in and told me the horse had settled beautifully and when he asked him to go there was no fuss, just on with the job and he did it all very easily.”
McKay was looking forward to celebrating the win with the large group of owners in the horse and hasn’t had any thoughts about what to do next with him.
“I haven’t looked any further than today, I just wanted to get him to the race and for him to do his best,” she said.
“There isn’t really a lot for him going forward so it might be we put him away for a break as he is going to be such a lovely stayer next season.
“The penny has dropped now and he is a real racehorse.
“I know there have been offers for him and that is really for the group to discuss, but we’re going to celebrate this win before we think about anything else.”
From the third crop of White Robe Lodge resident stallion Ghibellines, Palmetto is the second foal of Darci Brahma mare Carolina Island and is closely related to a host of European stakes winners including Group One winners With You, We Are, Call The Wind and Gr.1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) winner, Dominant.
He has now won three of his eight starts and just over $100,000 in prizemoney.