Supporters of the well favoured Romantic Maid were breathing a sigh of relief as the promising mare finally secured a deserved victory when taking out The Edge 97.8FM sponsored rating 85 mile at Te Rapa on Saturday.
The Roger James trained four-year-old had been desperately unlucky at each of her previous three runs and for a split-second it looked like history would be repeated as she was blocked when searching for a gap in the concluding stages of the contest.
This time fate played in her favour as rider Danielle Johnson found clear air at the 150 metre mark which allowed the mare to put paid to her challengers with a devastating turn of foot.
Johnson, who was having her first ride on the daughter of High Chaparral in this campaign, was the first to admit she had some dark thoughts when looking for space in the home straight.
“At the 400 I could hear Roger cursing my name,” she laughed.
“It was going to be like a horror film if she didn’t get up and win. She’s a promising mare though and at her last few runs she’s been luckless.
“She got that luck today and she’s been dominant.”
James also cut a relieved figure when questioned about the performance.
“That was a pretty deserved win as anybody who’d seen her previous three runs would have seen she’s been unlucky,” he said.
“I thought she was going to be unlucky again but full credit to Danielle as she had a plan B and managed to secure the right run before the mare did the rest.”
James acknowledged he had thought of his charge as a potential stayer in her early days but had revised that opinion in this campaign.
“I did give her the opportunity at further than a mile last year but at the end of the season I said she was probably a 1600-2000 metre horse,” he advised.
“We had a little hiccup at the beginning of the week so we were a bit nervous going in to this run. I just hoped that she would be okay on the firm track as she had only worked on the plough at home.
“Provided she comes through the run she will back up in the Taranaki Cup as I do think there is a big race in her somewhere.”
The Gr. 3 Platinum Homes Taranaki Cup is the feature event on the card at New Plymouth this Saturday.
- NZ Racing Desk | Pic Trish Dunell