Consistent performer Mascarpone capped a frustrating run of five consecutive placings to claim his first victory at the highest level when he took out the Gr.1 El Cheapo Cars WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki.
The Team Rogerson-trained five-year-old son of Shooting To Win is more commonly known as a high-class sprinting commodity having claimed minor placings in races such as the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) and twice in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m).
Stepping up to the 1600m journey for the first time since finishing unplaced behind the recently retired champion mare Probabeel in the 2020 Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), there were many pundits who doubted his ability to stretch to a mile.
Mascarpone found the lead without too much pressure and was beautifully rated by apprentice rider Wiremu Pinn before angling centre track when rounding the home bend in search of better ground.
Chased hard by the Jamie Richards-trained pair of Amarelinha and Brando, Mascarpone found a strong kick in the concluding stages to draw clear and register his eighth career victory at start 26 and take his prize money earnings in excess of $437,000.
Co-trainer Debbie Rogerson admitted that the Otaki race had been a major target for the horse this season, especially after his gallant run for third behind Levante and Entriviere in the BCD Group Sprint at his last start.
“He had been over the mile as a three-year-old, but he just wasn’t strong enough to cope with it back then,” she said.
“He has strengthened up over the last two seasons and this year we always thought we would like to get him back to the mile at some stage.
“When he went so well at Te Rapa last time, Graeme (Rogerson) said this was the race to win so we set our sights on it and that has paid off.
“He was the true weight-for-age performer in the race and Wiremu rode him extremely well and we got the victory.”
There are no immediate plans for the next stage of Mascarpone’s current campaign, although a dislike of racing right-handed will dictate just where the horse is placed.
“He swings a leg pretty badly, which means he isn’t well suited to going the right-handed way around,” Rogerson said.
“We’ll just take him home now and see how he recovers from this before deciding what we tackle next.
“I think the way he has improved and matured then we could be looking at races over 2000m in the future.
“He loves racing at Te Rapa so you could see him in a race like the Herbie Dyke Stakes (Gr.1, 2000m) this time next year.”
Pinn was calm and collected when discussing the tactics employed aboard his mount that provided him with his first success at Group One level.
“He has won pretty easily and just towed me everywhere,” Pinn said.
“I actually didn’t think he would get the mile today as I thought he was just a 1200m-1400m horse, but he has proved me wrong.
“It was by design we went wide as I’ve been riding all day and looking at the pattern and I thought the inside was off and a lot of winners were coming wider out.
“I spoke with Debbie (Rogerson) and she told made to try and save ground around the corner and then bring him out and it paid off.
“It took me a while to pull him up as well so maybe he might want even a little bit further.”
Bred by Westbury Stud owner Gerry Harvey, Mascarpone is out of the Flying Spur mare Fromage and was a $160,000 purchase by Team Rogerson during the Book 1 Sale at Karaka in 2018.
Westbury will offer a half-sister to Mascarpone by Reliable Man as Lot 261 during this year’s Book 1 Sale which commences at Karaka on Monday, March 7. – NZ Racing Desk
WINNER: Mascarpone (NZ) 2016
BREEDING: by Shooting to Win (AUS) out of Fromage (AUS) by Flying Spur (AUS)
BREEDER: G Harvey
RACE: Otaki Maori RC WFA S. Gr.1 1600m