While most people were surprised to see Town Cryer hold out the late charge of multiple Group One winner Prowess as she took out the Gr.3 Grangewilliam Stud Taranaki Breeder’s Stakes (1400m), trainer Royden Bergerson wasn’t necessarily one of them.
Bergerson had expected Prowess to be the hardest to beat in the feature race at Hawera on Saturday but when he heard the track would be in the Soft range on the day, his confidence grew that he could spring an upset with his six-year-old daughter of Tavistock.
Rider Johnathan Parkes took the bull by the horns from barrier rise as he set up a steady pace on his charge, who looked to be travelling easily approaching the home bend.
Town Cryer shook off the challenges of Darci La Bella and Mazzolino shortly after straightening before Prowess appeared out wide with a powerful burst.
Having her first start for the season after a delay caused by a minor injury, Prowess peaked on her run slightly as Town Cryer kicked strongly at the 100m to hold a one length advantage at the line, with Mazzolino battling nicely for third.
“It was great to come back to my old hometown and pick up the big one today,” Bergerson said.
“We knew she was flying, so we waited and waited and I said to the manager of her syndicate of owners that we would chuck her in the deep end have a crack at a big one.
“I didn’t think we would be racing against Prowess and beat her, maybe the track tripped her up, but you take the wins where you can and I’m proud of her.
“As soon as she came into the stable as a two-year-old I said to my old mate GV (Gary Vile) she was a Group horse and he laughed at me.
“She has just matured and it was a great ride by Parkesy, who rode her at the trials the other day and was confident as well.”
Bergerson had been contemplating sending the mare south to the Gr.3 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton on 15 November but admitted he may change those plans.
“I had been thinking I would send her to the Coupland’s Mile, but I might keep her back and aim her at something a little bigger in the North Island now,” he said.
Parkes admitted he heard the footsteps coming when Prowess launched her claim but was confident he had the situation in hand.
“Full credit to Royden as he had this mare spot on for today,” Parkes said.
“She looked amazing and trialled up really well.
“She got a nice lead, put pressure on when I wanted to and stuck on really well.
“She pinned her ears back and fought hard, Prowess is a superstar but I was on the better horse on the day and that is a nice win to get.”
Town Cryer has now won six of her 25 starts for Bergerson and her large group of owners and just under $200,000 in prizemoney.
Co-trainer Roger James, who prepares Prowess in partnership with Robert Wellwood, was satisfied with the run by his stable star, who had trouble negotiating the tricky Soft7 surface.
“She dipped quite badly in the ground and he (rider Michael McNab) said he had to pick her up and get her travelling again,” James said.
“She has got such a big action, so it just wasn’t’ ideal for her and she was beaten by a better horse on the day.
“It’s six months since she has a run and two and a half months since she had a trial, so like the All Blacks having their first game of the season, she will improve with it.”