Trainers Bruce Tapper and Varma Ramhit set the cat among the pigeons at Ashburton on Saturday when they produced lightly raced three-year-old Specialty (Rip Van Winkle – Rio Tinnelle) to win the Gr.3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m).
For good measure the combination also provided the quinella with stablemate Redmond however it was Specialty, a son of Rip Van Winkle, who claimed the major spoils at outside odds ($23) as he produced a powerful home straight burst to down a host of well performed contenders including race favourites One Kiss ($4) and Perfectly Suited ($2.60).
Rider Brandon May had Specialty away nicely from a wide barrier draw before settling into the trail behind pacemaker One Kiss.
Allowed to stride forward around the home bend, Specialty quickly took control and dashed away from his rivals with his stablemate in hot pursuit.
Redmond tried hard but had to settle for second behind Specialty, who took bragging rights by just over a length with I Choose You and Charbano next to finish.
Tapper was delighted with the result as he claimed his biggest win as a trainer with a horse he bred and races with his wife Karen under the Clearview Park Stud banner, an operation based on Tapper’s Timaru property.
“Varma and I have been training together for around 14 months and this is our biggest win, in fact it’s my biggest win and the first stakes win in my career,” he said.
“We have always fancied this horse as he was born and bred on the farm and he has been special since day one.
“That’s how he got his name and I thought today he would show just how good he could be.
“The 1400m was right up his alley and I definitely think the better ground (Good 4) was a big assist.
“He is out of a mare that I bought as a weanling and she won a race for me before she broke down after a handful of starts.
“This guy is her first foal and I think he may have inherited her ability as she didn’t really get the chance to show how good she was.”
Tapper was referring to Captain Rio mare Rio Tennille who he paid $4,800 for out of the Westbury Stud draft during the National Weanling Sale at Karaka in 2014. She hails from an extended family that includes multiple Group One winner Tit For Taat.
Tapper will now turn his attention with both Speciality and Redmond to the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 5.
“The main aim is the 2000 Guineas for both of ours and they will most likely go straight to the race without another run,” he said.
“You don’t know if they will get the mile until they try it, but I’m confident they both will cope.
“It looks a pretty open race this year with a few of the big guns dropping away, so we would like to give our horses their best shot at it.”
TAB bookmakers reacted to the Ashburton result by moving Specialty into $21 in the Fixed Odds market for the 2000 Guineas, ahead of Redmond at $31 with both horses sitting behind the current joint favourites in Pier ($5) and Cognito ($5).
– NZ Racing Desk