Te Rapa specialist Sultan Of Swing struck again at the Hamilton track on Saturday, providing a poignant result in the U S Navy Flag Foxbridge Plate 17 Aug (1600m).
Winning jockey Taiki Yanagida wore a black armband over the blue, black and green colours of owner-breeder Dominic Li, whose long-time New Zealand racing manager and friend Maryanne Simon lost her father Jim Mead this week.
“It’s a tough time for Maryanne, but I’m pleased the horse could deliver for everybody,” trainer Shaune Ritchie said.
Sultan Of Swing, who was born and raised at Trelawney Stud, has never been beaten at Te Rapa, winning the Gr.3 J Swap Contractors Sprint (1400m) last December in his first start at the track and scoring a last-start win over 1600 metres on June 8.
On Saturday he delivered again. After dropping back to last in the early stages of the race, the six-year-old swooped around the outside to hit the lead with 250 metres to run. Andoyas chased hard and got within half a length, but Sultan Of Swing held on to complete the 10th win of his 34-start career.
“He was detached early, but he got to the right part of the track and won well,” Ritchie said.
“He’s turning into a bit of an iron horse. He’s been up for a long time, but we’re still waiting for him to hit the brick wall.
“We keep spacing his races out, running every three or four weeks, which seems to help.”
Sultan Of Swing is closing in on the $300,000 mark, with today’s win lifting his career earnings to $290,914.
Yanagida admitted to some nerves when he saw the yellow and blue colours of his employers, Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott, closing in down the home straight.
“I galloped Andoyas the other day and he went quite well, so I was keeping an eye on him,” he said. “But luckily my horse was better this time.
“He was sleeping in the first 400 metres, but I gave him a little squeeze after that and he turned the engine on. He ran home really well and concentrated nicely all the way.”
Sultan Of Swing is one of five winners from five foals to race out of the High Chaparral mare Queen Cha Cha. He is a half-brother to the Li-bred Suavito, who won eight races including the Gr.1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) and Gr.1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m). – NZ Racing Desk.