Underrated stayer Langkawi came off the ballot and into the winners’ enclosure at Matamata on Saturday when he produced a determined finish to claim the Listed Matamata Veterinary Services Kaimai Stakes (2000m).
The Peter McKay-trained six-year-old has been in a purple patch of form of late with three wins in his last four starts after a disappointing two seasons where he failed to deliver on the promise he showed during his three-year-old campaign where he finished third in the Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m).
McKay has played a patient game with the enigmatic son of Helmet and was keen to get a start in Saturday’s black-type contest, especially as he was weighted on the minimum of 53kgs for the event.
Settled in midfield by rider Tegan Newman, Langkawi lobbed along nicely behind a solid speed before easing into contention along the fence approaching the home bend.
Newman and Langkawi issued their challenge at the 200m and kept up a resolute gallop to down gallant pacemaker Even Chance in the shadows of the post, with Slave To Love arriving late to claim third.
McKay admitted it had been a nervous wait to see if his charge would get a start from off the ballot for the race.
“I thought we would get in, but it took quite a while for some of them to drop out and it wasn’t until this morning (Saturday) that we knew we were in,” McKay said.
“I had actually said to Tegan that if we missed, she would be riding him in the last race, but thankfully we managed to get into the race and she then produced an absolute pearler of a ride to get the win.
“It’s her first stakes win and she deserves it as she had him in a beautiful spot all the way and hugged the rail and only came around the one horse in the straight.
“I was really keen to get him in as it was his best chance to have a crack at a race like this with such a light weight.
“He has been flying lately and when he puts his mind on the job, he has a fair amount of ability.”
McKay admitted the horse had disappointed him over the past two years and put it down to a lack of maturity both physically and mentally.
“He had a very good three-year-old season and we were really keen to see how he would go after that, but he was pretty disappointing really,” he said.
“He pretty much did nothing at four and wasn’t much better at five, but this year I think he has worked out what it is all about.
“He can get a bit temperamental and last time at Awapuni he had a really meltdown as it was hot and muggy and he just lost the plot.
“He was a much happier horse today and put in a performance that was much more like his true ability.
“I don’t really know what else is around for him, but we will take some time to celebrate this win and then have a look around at what there is coming up.”
Purchased by McKay for $55,000 out of the Seaton Park draft during the premier session at Karaka in 2017, Langkawi is out of the Black Minnaloushe mare Shortblackmini and is the younger sibling of stakes performers Amarula and Little Wonder. – NZ Racing Desk
WINNER: Langkawi (NZ) 2015
BREEDING: by Helmet (AUS) out of Shortblackmini by Black Minnaloushe (USA)
BREEDER: Kaihere Bloodstock Partnership
RACE: Matamata RC Kaimai S. L 2000m