A patient ride by Sam O’Malley proved the key to victory as Taranaki visitor Justaskme stormed clear to win the Gr.2 Gartshore Tauranga Stakes (1600m) at Tauranga.
The six-year-old son of No Excuse Needed relished the Heavy10 footing and looked to be travelling like a winner a long way out, despite being last in the seven-horse field.
With stablemate and race favourite Tavi Mac setting up a solid pace in front, O’Malley began a searching run out wide at the 600m as he tracked down eventual runner-up Hypnos, who had swooped to the lead on the point of the turn.
Justaskme ate up the ground as he stormed past Hypnos to win going away by four lengths with Vernanme finishing on solidly to take third.
Trainer Allan Sharrock couldn’t split his two runners leading into the race, but when the rain came, he leant towards the eventual winner.
“He is a pretty fair horse and when it rains, he is in his element,” he said.
“He doesn’t need a bog, but when he can get his toe in, he is right up there with the good ones.
“I thought it was a super ride as well as he just let him find his feet and then worked into it at the right time.
“He’s a lazy trackworker at home and switches off in his races as well, so he can be tough to get a line on.
“I think we’ll have to go to the Captain Cook Stakes (Gr.1, 1600m) next month, as if he struck a bit of rain then he would be very competitive.”
Sharrock was left shaking his head about stablemate Tavi Mac who weakened out to finish a well beaten fourth.
“I’m not worried, but there is something clearly wrong with Frodo (Tavi Mac),” he said.
“He has pulled up distressed and that is not like him.
“We have had him scoped and found nothing, his work was first class during the week and yet he hasn’t shown the fight that we know he has.
“We will take him home and go over him from head to toe and hopefully we can find what the problem is.”
Sharrock, who bred and co-owns Justaskme with his brother Bruce and former Kiwi rugby league international, Tony Kemp, is looking forward to celebrating the victory with the pair once COVID restrictions allow it.
“I was talking to the boys before I left the track and told them to keep their powder dry for the time being,” said.
“We can’t party yet, but there is definitely one coming.”
It was the second stakes win for Justaskme after he captured the Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) in July before going on to run second in the Gr.3 Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton in August.
He has now won eight of his 16 starts and over $204,000 in prizemoney. – NZ Racing Desk