Local runner Pier dominated his three-year-old rivals in the closing stages of the AHD Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m), dashing away to win the Group Two feature in fine style.
With the race transferred to Saturday’s Matamata meeting after Hastings was abandoned due to inclement weather last weekend, the strapping son of Proisir was in his element on his home surface for trainers Darryn and Briar Weatherley.
A last start second to race favourite Dynastic on the first day of the Hastings Spring Carnival saw Pier ($6.70) well-supported in the market for the Group Two feature and he didn’t let anyone down, courtesy of a picture-perfect ride by Michael McNab.
McNab bounced his charge away nicely from the barriers and settled in the trail as Mr Mojo Risin’ set up a steady pace in front, flanked by Dynastic who went forward from an outside (9) gate.
Approaching the home bend McNab pushed his way clear underneath Dynastic, who was struggling and set out after Mr Mojo Risin’ who led up into the run home.
Pier lengthened stride impressively to draw away in the closing stages and defeat Mr Mojo Risin’ by just on two lengths with another Matamata local in Channel Surfer closing off nicely to run third.
“It was pretty stressful but good to have the family around for this one,” an emotional Darryn Weatherley said.
“I actually ran second in this race a couple of times when I was riding, so it is a nice one to tick off.
“It is a time-honoured race and one that I am proud to say I’ve trained the winner.
“I left it up to Michael and told him to see how he began and how he was travelling and he gave him a ten out of ten ride.
“On the better track today, he had a great sprint and finished well, so I’m very happy and it looks good for Christchurch.”
Weatherley was alluding to the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 5 where TAB Bookmakers now have Pier as the equal $5 favourite with the Mark Walker-trained Cognito.
“It was good to come here today as we live just 600m away from the track and he will be home soon without a five-hour float trip to contend with,” he said.
“We will take a look at him and see how he comes through this before we make any firm plans for Riccarton.
“There is the Sarten Memorial (Gr.2, 1400m) at Te Rapa on Labour Weekend, but it is a big trip to go to Riccarton so we might flag Te Rapa and go straight to Riccarton.”
McNab was full of praise for his mount who found plenty when asked to produce in the run home.
“It ended up working out well as we got the trail, although he felt under a little pressure turning in,” McNab said.
“I took the opportunity to get clear running and when I let him go, he was very quick off the mark.
“They did say he would look a lot better on a good track and he won really well, just a lovely horse.”
Pier was bred by Weatherley and his wife Lou along with close friend Barry Wright, who share in the ownership alongside well-known Australian racing identity Ozzie Keir, who purchased a twenty five percent share in the horse before he ran second at Hastings in the Listed El Roca-Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m).
He is out of Darci Brahma mare La Vitesse, a daughter of multiple stakes winner Naturo who was injured and retired when finishing close up in fifth in the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m).