Vernanme scored his first stakes victory on Sunday when successful in the Listed Haunui Farm Karaka Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe.
Punters were keen on the winning chances of four-year-old O’Reilly entire Vernanme in the main event of the day after he produced an eye-catching run for second behind Mac Attacka at Ruakaka late last month.
Group One placed behind Madison County in the Levin Classic (1600m) during his three-year-old campaign, Vernanme has furnished into an imposing specimen over his winter break and lived up to those good looks with a sustained burst of speed over the final 300m on Sunday as he held out the stern challenges of Concert Hall and Fiscal Fantasy to record his win at black-type level and just his second win from ten career starts.
“It’s quite funny really, just his second career victory for a horse like him,” Marsh said.
“I was saying at the 600m just sit a bit longer, don’t go too early, as he was travelling beautifully.
“He’s that sort of horse as he buttons off a little bit but you wanted to be on him a fair way out.”
Trainer Stephen Marsh will now lift his sights with the Kevin Hickman and Vern Trillo bred and owned galloper as he sets him for a tilt at the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings in a fortnight.
It will provide a mouth-watering clash with wonder mare Melody Belle as she attempts to become the first horse to take out the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown after her wins in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) on the first two days of the Bostock New Zealand Spring Carnival.
“He will be off to the Livamol now for sure,” Marsh said.
“He’s only second up today and he looks a picture so there is no reason why he can’t go on to bigger and better things.
“We’ve given him a good spell and he’s come back better, so he is a Cups horse in the making.”
Jockey Danielle Johnson was taken by the ease of the win after enjoying an armchair ride on the race favourite.
“It’s pretty easy when they race like that,” she said.
“He’s a good horse and I know he’d only won a maiden mile before today but he’s put his hand up today.
“I wanted to sit on him as long as possible and although I saw Concert Hall coming on his outside, I never thought we were in trouble as he has fought and found when he has seen her.”
Vernanme is out of the five-race winner Bohemian Blues and is a full brother to the champion three-year-old Australian filly of 2010-11 Shamrocker, a winner of four races including two Group One events the Australian Derby and the Australian Guineas. She was also second in the Gr.1 Australian Oaks, the Gr.1 VRC Oaks and third in the Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas. At two she won the Gr.2 Sire’s Produce Stakes.
Another sister is Bohemian Lily who was raced by Hickman, to win the Gr.2 BRC The Roses, and the Listed Gold Coast Bracelet, along with a host of black type placings before retiring to stud in 2016.
Bohemian Blues is also the dam of another group one winner in Rock Diva, a daughter of Lucky Unicorn who won the Auckland Cup and the Gr.3 Sunline Vase. She was also placed in the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks, Gr.1 Queensland Derby and Gr.1 Queensland Oaks, she too was retired to stud by her owners in 2016.
Bohemian Blues is by Blues Traveller out of the Icelandic mare Winter’s Tale, she won five races and was a half-sister to Fairy Tale a stakes winner of eight races in Singapore, and to Juryman a winner of 15 races in New Zealand and Macau including the Macau Guineas, the Macau Cup twice and the Macau Gold Cup twice, the Director’s Cup and the Chairman’s Challenge Cup all at listed level. -NZ Racing Desk, NZTBA