Deteriorating track conditions at Awapuni that saw a Soft5 surface turned to a Heavy10 due to persistent rain throughout the day, played right into the hands of local runner Belardo Boy (NZ) (Belardo) who revelled in the conditions when taking out the Gr.3 Hunterville Vet Club Metric Mile (1600m).
The Lisa Latta-trained five-year-old was having his first run back from a short spell after securing victory in the Gr.3 Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton in early August.
Fitted for Saturday’s assignment with a solid 1200m trial at Foxton, Belardo Boy looked primed for a top performance and that was what his supporters got as he swooped down the outer of the track in the hands of Joe Doyle to gather in stablemates Ladies Man and Justaskme in the final 100m of a keenly contested event.
Latta, who had taken out the preceding event with Old Town Road, was thrilled to see her charge prevail courtesy of a copybook ride from Doyle on the testing track.
“He got in with a nice weight today (54.5kgs) and relaxed a treat from a nice draw,” Latta said.
“Joe can ride light and that is a big assist as he is riding very well.
“I’m not convinced he is a true heavy tracker, but it’s a Spring heavy track today which he can handle.”
Latta will now set the horse for the Gr.3 Gee & Hickton Funeral Directors Thompson Handicap (1600m) at Trentham on 21 October, despite some concerns about the weight he will be allotted in the contest.
“We will probably go to the Thompson Handicap at Trentham next,” she said.
“He’s starting to get up in the weights now, but we will look to go there as he goes so well at Wellington.”
Belardo Boy has now won eight of his 30 starts and over $260,000 in prizemoney after he was purchased for just $28,000 by Latta from the Haunui Farm draft during the Book 2 Sale at Karaka in 2020.
His dam L’Amour, who was also trained by Latta, won seven races and was stakes placed while he is also closely related to dual Group One winner Julinsky Prince.
Race favourite Ladies Man ($2.70) was far from disgraced when finishing close up in second in just his third start in a new campaign, while stablemate Justaskme battled home resolutely under his topweight of 60.5kgs for trainer Allan Sharrock.