Thenamesbond scores feature win at favourite venue
A revitalised Waikato Hunt Cup steeplechase made a welcome return to the northern region on Sunday with the 4250 metre contest producing a fitting climax to this year’s jumping action.
The time-honoured event had fallen off the national calendar in recent years however was revived to take pride of place at Te Aroha on Sunday where two well performed fencers fought out a stirring finish to the $40,000 contest.
|Thenamesbond Photo: Trish Dunell|
This season’s Waikato Hurdles winner Thenamesbond has taken to the bigger steeplechase fences with aplomb having won the open event on National Jumps Day at the venue last month. Sent out as a well favoured candidate, he assumed his customary pacemaking role in the hands of James Seivwright and led his eleven rivals a merry chase for the majority of the race.
Hot on his heels was former Wellington Hurdle winner Just Got Home who was returning to the scene of his maiden steeplechase win back in August. This pair dominated proceedings throughout as they slipped clear to fight out the finish with 800 metres to run. Refusing to give an inch Thenamesbond cleared the final obstacle a length in front of his rival and forged clear in the run to the line to score a well-deserved victory.
Trainer Stephen Ralph had been concerned about the very heavy track conditions leading into the race.
“We found mid-week that he had a problem which we sorted out so he was ready to go provided he could handle the track,” he said.
“He has won on the last day of the season for the last two years so we were hoping he could continue that pattern. He actually won his maiden steeplechase at this meeting last year.”
Ralph now has his sights set on some of the feature chasing events in 2018 with Thenamesbond including the Waikato Steeplechase at Te Rapa.
The victory was career win number 12 for the China Cat nine-year-old, with eight of those having come at Te Aroha, and takes his stakes earnings to just over $225,000.
Earlier in the day promising jumper Laekeeper indicated he will be a force to be reckoned with in the major hurdle events next year when he strode home to score a convincing victory in the Mike Fraser-Jones Hurdle. – NZ Racing Desk