HE'S ONE of New Zealand's more inconsistent racehorses, but it was the good Veldt who showed up at Waipukurau yesterday and surged to a powerful half-length win in the $15,000 Mick O'Sullivan, John Turkington Forestry Cup.
The 6-year-old Volksraad gelding has shown glimpses of great ability through his 34-start career. He's scored six impressive wins, and as a 2-year-old he ran second in the Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes and fourth in the Karaka Million. But for every good performance, his connections and fans have had to put up with several bad ones. He's been unplaced in 21 of those 34 starts, and his good performances have been scattered randomly amongst them. It's near-impossible to predict which Veldt you're going to get until the starting gates crash open.
At Waipukurau yesterday Veldt broke well from an inside barrier, but was held back by rider David Walsh as Aintree, Belfast Lad and Inanoff took command. Walsh bided his time in second-last position for much of the 2100m event, sitting quietly in the saddle as the field swung out of the back straight, just 600m from home.
Still with only one runner behind him at the home turn, Walsh guided Veldt to the extreme outside and asked him to make his bid. The response was an impressive, sustained sprint that carried him to a comfortable and convincing win. Aintree held second, with Ballybit third. Favourite Inanoff faded to finish a disappointing seventh, beating just one runner home.
The rest of yesterday's races were utterly dominated by Hawke's Bay horses. Hastings trainers won four of the eight races, including two for the partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen.
The first local victory came in the second race of the day, the Aerospread Limited Sprint, when the Lowry and Cullen-trained Colourful Lady got up by a desperate nose. Locals also filled the minor placings in that event, with the Kirsty Lawrence-trained La Sommeliere second and Lowry and Cullen taking third-place money as well with Pheasant.
The next win was in the very next race, the Sandford Arms Tavern Maiden, in which the Sue Thompson and Mick Brown-trained Gold Moet prevailed, again by a nose. Paul Nelson joined in on the act with No Change's equally narrow victory in the Bel Group/Foley Agri 1600, then Lowry and Cullen capped a superb day with Pimms Time's victory in the Ben Allen Transport/Ben Foote Racing Stables 1400 to close the day.
Attention now shifts north today, with enigmatic Hastings star sprinter The Hombre lining up against a tough field in the Morton Estate Sparkling Sprint in Tauranga.
The field features plenty of stakes performers, such as Double Barrow, Sir Lovesalot, Art Beat, Shandream, Innovation and Gaston, but at his very best, The Hombre would have the measure of them. We can only hope he follows Veldt's example and puts his best foot forward.