Trainer Robbie Patterson has had his New Plymouth stable firing on all cylinders of late but even he couldn’t believe he would pick up the two feature events at Trentham on Saturday.
Rider Craig Grylls, a close friend of Patterson, shared in the top drawer double as he guided statuesque gelding Puntura to victory in the Gr.1 Harcourts Team Group Thorndon Mile (1600m) before combining with Mary Louise to take out the time honoured Gr.3 NZ Campus of Sport and Innovation Wellington Cup (3200m) with another peach of a ride.
There was sensation early in the two-mile contest as race favourite Waisake dropped rider Matt Cameron after appearing to clip heels when racing in tight quarters towards the rear of the field. Cameron would later make his way unaided to the on-course ambulance and was reported to have suffered no significant injuries.
Grylls missed all the drama as he settled Mary Louise just in front of the melee and slowly crept forward to sit three wide in midfield before asking the daughter of underrated Taranaki sire The Bold One to move into contention approaching the home turn.
Mary Louise quickly took over and under strong riding from Grylls held out the late challenges of Fierce Flight and Canheroc to win by a length at the line and register career win number seven.
Patterson appeared more than a little overwhelmed as he accepted congratulations after the contest.
“I’m very emotional to win this as it means a lot to me and is very special.” Patterson said.
“This is a very iconic race and while we in the Taranaki may not always have the best bred horses, we really punch above our weight and I’m very proud of that.
“She (Mary Louise) over-raced a bit early on as she is used to going a bit quicker, but then she found her rhythm.
“She was three, four and even five wide at times so it was a pretty good effort although she stays longer than a mother-in-law.
“How do you beat this (winning a Group One as well as the Cup), well you can’t and I’m so proud.”
Grylls was wearing a smile a mile wide as he explained how the race panned out for him and how it wasn’t the first time he had achieved a victory in both races on the same day..
“Ten years ago, I won both races on the same day with A Touch Of Ruby (Thorndon Mile) and Graphic (Wellington Cup) which was back in 2014,” he said.
“This is the best and to do it for Robbie and Eddie Bourke (part-owner) is outstanding as they are such great people.
“The last few starts she had tailed off and I couldn’t get her to go whereas today she actually pulled for the first half of the race and I had a job to settle her.
“I was on the outer and had cover and when I gave her a click up she came up underneath me and I knew I was travelling pretty sweet.”
Racing in the colours of co-breeder and part-owner Eddie Bourke, Mary Louise has now won seven of her 15 starts and $326,375 in prizemoney.
The race also marked the final call for iconic commentator Tony Lee who is hanging up the binoculars after a storied and well respected fourty-year career.