Clarify finds winning form at Ellerslie
3 December 2017, 2:41 p.m.
Last season’s Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final (2200m) winner Clarify finally bounced back to winning form when he took out one of the qualifying events for this year’s championship at Ellerslie on Saturday.
The Peter McKay trained stayer had found success hard to come by in the intervening eleven months since his January 1 victory despite performing with credit in most assignments in the interim. A run of two minor placings in his last three starts augured well for Saturday and so it proved as the Savabeel five-year-old produced his best as he looks to defend his Dunstan crown next month.
|Clarify Photo: Trish Dunell|
A change of tactics that saw rider Shaun McKay sit Clarify just behind the early pace paid dividends as the pair loomed into contention early in the run home before finishing best to win by a stylish three length margin.
Trainer Peter McKay had been confident before the race that he had his charge back to his best after he had missed an opportunity to start in the Gr. 3 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup (3200m) last month.
“I had been working him over ground but the Saturday before we were meant to head south he tied up on me, so we decided it might be time to back off him slightly,” he said.
“We’ve freshened him up and hopefully he can go towards the Dunstan now.
“He’s had a mixed preparation as his first three runs were all at Hawkes Bay on the off tracks which he didn’t seem to like. He then went to Wellington where he went a nice race but things went wrong after that.”
The race wasn’t without its drama as the protest siren sounded shortly after the runners passed the winning post following a slightly bizarre incident at the start. Rider Danielle Johnson was dislodged from her mount Pearlescence shortly after the barriers opened as the bridle came loose on the horse. Leith Innes, who was riding race favourite Magic Chai, was slowly away and saw both the fall and the Ellerslie Clerk of the Course attempt to catch the riderless horse immediately in front of him.
He also heard race commentator George Simon mention it could be a false start which saw him pull up his mount as the field in front of him rounded the bend out of the home straight.
Following the race, a request for a ruling was filed by stipendiary stewards as to whether Pearlescence and Magic Chai were prevented from taking an effective part in the race. After viewing films and hearing submissions the Judicial Committee declared both horses to be non-starters.
Clarify’s victory provided further celebrations for Cambridge’s Smithies family who scored a race-to-race double with former Hong Kong galloper King’s Cross winning over 1200 metres in the previous event, a horse they share in the ownership of with trainer Stephen Marsh. - NZ Racing Desk