Roger James was cursing his luck after the first race at Tauranga today, but all smiles after his luck changed with a most impressive win by Von Tunzelman in the fifth event.
In each case Karaka owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay were involved, first of all as an opponent then as part of the team.
James certainly didn’t begrudge the Lindsays for their win with Marky Mark in the Gartshore Construction 1600, but was justifiably adamant his own stable representative Romantic Maid should have won the race instead of finishing second.
Despite facing just four rivals, Romantic Maid trailed third and looked to be travelling well, but she became hemmed in behind three runners vying for the lead as Marky Mark moved up from a clear last to on her outside approaching the home turn.
Rider Mark Du Plessis was caught in a hopeless pocket on Romantic Maid as Marky Mark held his ground on the outside until well into the home straight. Then when the Lindsays’ charge made his winning bid, the filly didn’t get wound up until late and, when she did, she finished strongly to be beaten a long neck.
“Now I’ve got to ring my owner and tell her she’s been unlucky again – that’s the third time in a row,” said James.
Romantic Maid had been blocked for a run until too late when third at Te Rapa last month then trapped wide for most of the journey when runner-up to Wildflower at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
Though Romantic Maid was desperately unlucky, there was plenty of merit in the performance of Marky Mark, who is now recapturing some of the promise he showed two seasons ago as a two-year-old when winning the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes at Awapuni.
It proved a frustrating three-year-old season for the Lindsays with Marky Mark after a second-up fourth behind Amarula in the Gr.2 Sacred Falls Hawke’s Bay Guineas. He did pick up a couple more fourths but never realised his potential.
“He went through a growing stage last season,” explained co-trainer Moira Murdoch. “Now he’s filled out his frame and is looking like a racehorse. It’s good to see him back.”
Marky Mark has won two of his last three starts and looks sure to provide the Lindsays with more success. And so, too, does Von Tunzelman judging by his win in today’s Aztech Signs 2100.
James has always had faith in Von Tunzelman and has taken his time with the four-year-old son of Zabeel.
Von Tunzelman looked a serious prospect for the $80,000 Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day after winning well over 1600 metres at Te Rapa on December 10, but James resisted the temptation to start him in the 2200-metre special conditions race.
“The option is there, but I don’t know whether it’s the best race for him at this stage,” said James after the Te Rapa win. ”It could be a big ask. There’s bigger fish to fry later on.
“We’ve given him time now and maybe it would be best to look for other options rather than step him up over ground so soon.”
Instead James ran Von Tunzelman again over 1600 at Te Rapa where the grey gelding finished strongly for fourth behind Skyweka, then stepped him up to 1950 at Rotorua with the result being a close second to Endean Rose when again storming home late.
Von Tunzelman faced his first true staying test today up over 2100 metres and he handled the task admirably.
Rider Michael Coleman settled him sixth in the 10-horse field and didn’t panic when Zacada swept around the field from the rear to dispute the pace at the 900 metres. Then into the home straight he angled Von Tunzelman to the outside and, when the promising galloper let down inside the final 100 metres, he rushed past the leaders to win with ease.
At the finish Von Tunzelman had a length and a quarter to spare over the runner-up, Taupo Cup winner Francis Drake, with Zacada, from Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman’s stable, fighting on for a brave third.
“Here’s a stayer with a future,” was the comment of race caller Bruce Sherwin as Von Tunzelman cruised past the winning post. And how could you argue with that statement.
While Marky Mark has already posted a Group One success for the Lindsays (their first), don’t be surprised to see Von Tunzelman follow suit as he gains further staying experience.
As close to their hearts as Marky Mark is, the Lindsays would get a special thrill if Von Tunzelman succeeds at the top level as he is a son of their fine racemare J’Adane.
Though only a one-race winner, J’Adane performed well in the best company and came within a half-head of success in the Gr.1 $2 million Kelt Capital Stakes in 2007 as well as gaining six other placings in Group races.
-Cambridge JC | Pic Race Images