Outstanding three-year-old Sharp ‘N’ Smart overcame a wide run in transit against a quality field of middle distance performers to capture the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa in a performance that had to be seen to be believed.
Having just his second start since returning from an Australian Spring campaign that saw him win the Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick before being narrowly beaten in the Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m), the Team Rogerson-trained runner was sent out a $2.90 favourite, narrowly ahead of fellow three-year-old Wild Night.
Rider Ryan Elliot elected to go forward when the starting gates opened, but in a nightmare scenario several runners kicked up on his inside which saw him posted four wide around the first bend before settling three wide with cover in midfield.
Forced into the unusual role of pacemaker, Defibrillate set a muddling pace in front before being joined on the point of the home turn by Wild Night, with stablemate Campionessa tracking him through on the inner of Sharp ‘N’ Smart.
Elliot got to work on the son of Redwood and despite the wide run he dug deep to defeat Campionessa by a length with Wild Night shading Defibrillate for third.
Co-trainer Graeme Rogerson has long said he had something special on his hands with Sharp ‘N’ Smart and he was delighted his charge could deliver on that description.
“When he learns to be a racehorse I think I’ve got a good horse,” Rogerson said.
“I think he’s freak as he can run a 600m in 33 seconds and he still gives when you ask him.
“I think next Spring you could see a real good horse.
“I’d love to take him to Hong Kong, but it is the New Zealand Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) next and then the Australian Derby (Gr.1, 2400m).”
Elliot was in awe of his mount and was struggling to aptly describe just how good the performance was.
“He is an absolute champion and the best thing about him is that he still has room to improve,” Elliot said.
“He had a tough run at Wellington first up and he really tightened up well for this race.
“I thought they might punch up early so I was able to settle back a little three-wide with cover as he does switch off so well.
“He came off the bridle early and you have to kid a little to him but when that horse came alongside him in the straight he really dug in deep and went through the line very strongly.
“He is up there with the best I’ve ridden and he has so much more to give as he is still mentally weak, so there is a lot more in store for him.”
Bred by Gerry Harvey, Sharp ‘N’ Smart is out of a half-sister to Absalon, who won five races including two Listed victories in Brisbane.
Now the winner of five of his ten starts, with a further four placings, the gelding has won over $2,452,000 in prizemoney.
Sharp ‘N’ Smart was a $55,000 purchase from Westbury Stud’s draft in Book 2 of Karaka 2021, then was passed in for $90,000 at the Ready to Run Sale later that year.