Former Kiwi Regal Lion (Jakkalberry x Red Delight) showed terrific fight to land the Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m) on Saturday for trainer Annabel Neasham.
The four-year-old son of Jakkalberry travelled midfield for much of the contest, with the tempo dictated by stablemate Numerian ($4).
But the less fancied Regal Lion ($21) was put into the race at the right time by jockey Ben Thompson, making a looping run before the home turn and was brave to the line when challenged by Desert Icon.
“Ben brought Regal Lion into the race early and with blinkers on he just knew when to pounce and was tough at the finish,” Neasham’s stable foreman Todd Pollard said.
"He's a true dour Kiwi so it takes a bit for him to get going. A few of the staff at home were quite confident he would go as well as Numerian, if not better, and he was favourite this morning.
“He's been going really well at home and his work on Tuesday morning was very sharp, so it's not a huge surprise he's shown plenty of improvement from his last run.”
Pollard said Regal Lion will now extend his time in the Sunshine State.
"He'll stay up here and run in the Caloundra Cup (Listed). I'm sure he'll appreciate the 2400m."
Winning jockey Ben Thompson said the track and conditions also played into his favour.
"You need the horse underneath you, so all credit to Annabel and Todd. He was disappointing first up, but he's got a good second-up record,” Thompson said.
“He was always going to be much more at home over 2000m, and the way the track has been playing I knew it would suit a horse like him, because he likes to slowly work his way into the race.
“There was a bit of give which he likes, and it worked out perfectly. The blinkers also did the trick, he jumped smartly and travelled beautifully. They steadied up so I popped him out to keep him in a nice rhythm, and we picked up our run from there. When he straightened up I thought it was probably his race to lose."
Originally trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman for owner-breeders Barbara and Carl McComb, Regal Lion was a maiden winner at Rotorua in November of his three-year-old season.
Subsequently partially sold to OTI Racing, he stepped up when third behind Asterix and La Crique in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m), while he was also runner-up in the Gr.2 Tulloch Stakes (1850m) before he joined the Neasham stable.
Saturday’s victory was the first black-type victory for the handy stayer.
By ill-fated former Novara Park stallion Jakkalberry, Regal Lion is the first foal out of the Congrats mare Red Delight.
Unplaced on the track, Red Delight is a granddaughter of Group One winner Danglissa and closely related to big-race performers Unite And Conquer, Profiteer and Sweet Redemption. – NZ Racing Desk