New Zealand-bred gelding Snow Patrol (NZ) (Contributer) dug deep as he defeated classy rival Southport Tycoon (Written Tycoon) in a stirring edition of the Gr.2 Hyland Race Colours Autumn Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr-trained son of Contributer was fresh-up but had trialled well leading into Saturday’s assignment.
Winning jockey Mark Zahra made sure he never let chief rival Southport Tycoon and Damian Lane out of his sight, with that duo pulling away to fight out a two-horse war, with Snow Patrol just shading his rival at the post.
Snow Patrol and Southport Tycoon were two and a half lengths clear of Perth raider Zipaway (Playing God), who made good ground for third, setting up another mouth-watering clash in the Gr.1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in three weeks’ time.
Michael Kent Jnr was quick to pay tribute to one of the founding members of emerging syndication company Ace Bloodstock, whose colours are sported by the three-year-old gelding.
“We knew he was going really well but we left plenty in the tank and I’m delighted for all the (Ace Bloodstock) boys,” Kent Jnr said.
“I’d like to dedicate the win to Tim Mangan, who along with his son Darcy got Ace Bloodstock going. We lost Tim last year, he was in I’m Thunderstruck (NZ) (Shocking), and I’m rapt for all the boys. They are awesome guys to be in a horse with and it is a really big win.
“I was taken with his last 100m where the second horse really kicked back and made it tough for him and he just fought it out. We have got three weeks now until the Guineas, which is ideal.
“Being by Contributer, we hope he will get out to 2000m, why wouldn’t he? He’s a big strong clean-winded sound horse and the race worked out beautifully for him. The pace was on and how good is Mark Zahra.”
Zahra is the first jockey to win the Autumn Stakes on four occasions and the hoop admitted he was taken by the lightly-tried gallopers trial leading into Saturday’s victory.
“The plan was to follow Southport Tycoon everywhere he went, and I did,” Zahra said.
“Frosty (Lane) was travelling really strong and I thought if I waited for him to kick, I wouldn’t be able to pick him up.
“Mick Price and Junior always have their horse fit, even first-up, so I opted to rush him a bit at the top of the straight and it became a two-horse war. There was nothing in it but it was a great battle and I just got the head over the line at the right time and I think he will improve a lot from that too.”
Amongst the throng of supporters to welcome the gelding back to scale was Ace Bloodstock Director Chris Fraraccio.
“It was very exciting. It’s our first stakes win – a Group Two – it’s his second prep and his first start, so onto the Guineas,” Fraraccio said.
“Ace Bloodstrock has been around for about a year and a half. It is a group of mates – me, Darcy Mangan and Rob Colaneri.
“We really focus on bloodstock from New Zealand and this guy came out of the Ready To Run Sale at Karaka. We have about 15 on the books now.”
Snow Patrol is another quality galloper to come out of the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale, purchased for $170,000 by Price from the draft of Derek and Sophia Nolan’s Lilywhites Lodge at the 2022 sale.
By Mapperley Stud stallion Contributer, Snow Patrol is out of the O’Reilly mare O’Rocker (NZ) (O’Reilly), a half-sister to smart galloper Keefy (All Too Hard) who was fourth in last year’s Hong Kong Derby (2000m). The three-year-old was bred by Bruce, Mark and Raelyn Wallbank from Pukekohe.
Contributer continues to do a sterling job at stud with three limited books due to a misplaced kick from a mare, but now back to full-health the Group One winning son of High Chaparral operates off an impressive 6.5 percent stakes winners to runners with bigger books to come.