Trainer Bryce Newman took five horses to Awapuni on Sunday, confident he could pick up a win during the nine-race programme.
A narrow defeat in the first race for maiden galloper Age Of Nature and two solid fourth placings by Amathusia and Sugah Sweet left him thinking he might end up going home empty handed.
Progressive mare Love For All put a stop to that with a gutsy performance to take out the open handicap feature, the Manawatu Standard Summer Cup (1550m) before three-year-old filly Rue Cler bulldogged her way to her second career win in the last race on the card against the older fillies and mares in a rating 65 1550m contest.
Newman was thrilled to pick up the winning double, especially on a day where Awapuni saw the return of crowds on-course that provided an uplifting experience for all participants.
“It was great to get a double and we nearly won a third, however I think the best part of the day was just having people there and seeing the pleasure on their faces,” he said.
“Racing just isn’t the same when the crowds aren’t there and just to hear them cheering as the horses thunder down the straight is music to your ears.
“We had a super day, that was made even more special because of that.”
Newman, the former New Zealand elite equestrian representative, has really only been serious about a full-time training business in the past few years after spending plenty of time in a pre-training capacity after arriving back in New Zealand with wife Michelle and his young family back in the late 1990’s.
“I spent around seven years living in England when I was competing in the eventing field and even when we moved back home here, I was still travelling to compete overseas,” he said.
“We mainly were pre-trainers and only had a handful of runners and it wasn’t until Gorbachev won the Wellington Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) in 2019 that I started to get serious about it all.
“We are working around 15-17 at the moment and while it is my name on the license, my wife Michelle is the boss. I wear the trousers, but she tells me which ones!”
Newman is delighted with the way the team is shaping up and predicts that Sunday’s winners, Love For All and Rue Cler are on their way through the grades.
“There isn’t much to Love For All, but she is just a real tough individual,” he said.
“She was very good last season as a three-year-old and ran second in the Eulogy Stakes (Gr.3, 2000m).
“She is still maturing so we have deliberately spaced her races and plan to give her a very easy season.
“I think as a five-year-old she will shine and at the moment we are just nursing her along.
“She loves it at Awapuni and that was a good effort on Sunday to make it back-to-back wins in open company.”
Rue Cler, a daughter of Rich Hill Stud stallion Proisir, is also a later mature who Newman believes will excel over ground later in her career.
“Rue Cler is a really tall and leggy filly who still has a way to go to fill out her frame,” Newman said.
“We have been delighted with her so far and her only real failure was when she ran on a Slow track back in October. She just wasn’t right that day, so we freshened her up and she just thrived during that brief break.
“More ground will be her friend and we have her nominated for the Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m), but whether that comes up a bit quick for her will be the main concern.
“She had her game face on yesterday and it was a lovely ride by Lisa Allpress to get her home.
“I think in another 12 months you will see a pretty handy mare.”