Kevin Robertson, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk
Awapuni visitor Belardo Boy (Belardo x L'Amour) claimed the first stakes race of the new racing season when he came with a determined late run to capture the Gr.3 Winning Edge Presentations Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton.
The Lisa Latta-trained five-year-old had been blocked for a run when finishing seventh in the Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) at his last start, but more than made up for that dose of ill-luck with a sparkling performance in the hands of Irishman Joe Doyle.
Doyle had Belardo Boy settled nicely on the fence in the early running before angling on to the back of favourite Justaskme entering the home straight.
Given time to balance up out wide in slightly better ground, the son of Belardo produced an irresistible finish to forge clear in the shadows of the post, defeating Matamata mare Cork who had followed him throughout while Conor O’Ceirin battled on bravely for third after hitting the front at the 200m.
It was the fourth win in the race for Latta after she produced Tuscany Warrior (2003), Mikki Street (2006) and Platinum Command (2018) to capture the traditional winter flat feature at the annual Grand National carnival.
“It’s the first Group race of the season and a race you like to target,” Lata said.
“We’ve had it in mind for this horse since he came back into work and if you watch his last run, he was very unlucky after a super win before that.
“Craig McNeill runs the syndicate who own him and has been with me a very long time so it means a hell of a lot to me.
“If he comes through the race well he is likely to back up on the last day of the Carnival next Saturday.”
Doyle, who had combined with the Latta-trained Pignan to take out the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) last season, was quick to thank her for putting him on the horse.
“That’s just fantastic and I’m very grateful to Lisa and her team,” he said.
“The horse has done it very well and I’m grateful to able to ride a horse like this in a big race.
“I imagine he is not easy to train as he can get very keen at times, but they’ve done a brilliant job with him.
“The race went close to plan as I said I’d pop out and throw the reins at him before following the Sharrock horse (Justaskme) into the race and if he’s good enough then he will be good enough.
“It worked out perfectly and I think he could be a pretty good horse.”
Bred by John Fokerd in conjunction with Haunui Farm, who stood his shuttle sire Belardo at their Karaka property for six seasons, Belardo Boy was a $28,000 purchase for Latta out of the Haunui draft during the Book 2 Sale at Karaka in 2020.
The son of stakes-placed mare L’Amour has now won seven of his 28 starts and just over $200,000 in prizemoney.