Progressive three-year-old The Racketeer showed all his fighting qualities when he lifted himself off the canvas to take victory in the opening event at Avondale on Tuesday.
In the process the powerful son of Proisir has earned himself a ticket to the Brisbane winter carnival with several other members of the Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray stable.
Rider Sam Weatherley took the bull by the horns as he set up a steady pace aboard The Racketeer in the 1400m contest, but looked to be in serious trouble when Pour The Wine dashed past him at the 300m and looked set for victory.
Weatherley got to work on the big fellow and he kicked back strongly to forge to the lead again nearing the finish line to post his third career victory.
Ritchie, who is currently in Australia with three-year-old filly Maurizma to contest a maiden 1800m event at Eagle Farm next week after finishing an unlucky fourth on debut at Ruakaka earlier in the month, was pleased with victory.
“He had to win today to justify a trip to Brisbane and he has got the job done,” Ritchie said.
“He didn’t corner well today and that nearly cost him, so he is going to have to sharpen up if he is going to foot it in Australia.
“We’ll have a look at the race again and it might be he has a gear change for next time, maybe some winkers or even a set of blinkers.
“In saying that he is still growing and is a pretty laid-back customer who we think will really suit the tracks in Queensland.”
Ritchie purchased The Racketeer for $27,500 out of Rich Hill Stud’s 2021 Book 2 Karaka Yearling Sale draft and was quick to remember one of the gelding’s ownership group in Scott Massey who passed away recently.
“It was great to get that win as it is the first horse to have raced in Scott’s colours since he passed,” he said.
“He was a wonderful man and hopefully this can bring a little ray of sunshine for his family at such a sad time.”
Ritchie also advised that his recent European import Mahrajaan would also be joining the team in Queensland after having his first-up run in an open 1400m event at Te Rapa this weekend.
“We’ve got Mahrajaan earmarked for some of the good Brisbane staying races at this stage,” he said.
“He was going to run at Awapuni last Sunday but we didn’t want to tear his guts out on a very heavy track so we decided to wait and to send him a round at Te Rapa instead.
“He has come up well and while we are not expecting much over 1400m we would like to see him running on as we think once he gets up to 2400m and beyond he will be pretty competitive.”
Ritchie nominated the Gr.2 Brisbane Cup (3200m) at Eagle Farm on June 10 as the main target for the son of Kitten’s Joy who he purchased in England last year for 65,000 guineas.