Trainer Ron Leemon had resigned himself to defeat but two-year-old Manawanui overcame trouble at the start to produce an ultra-impressive victory at Canterbury on Wednesday.
“I thought we were gone,” Leemon said.
“But he’s a very good horse.”
Manawanui’s performance could have earned him a Brisbane winter carnival berth after he stormed home from last to score a decisive 1-1/4-length win over Nobby Snip and Follow My Lead in the TJ’s Champagne Bar Handicap (1100m).
The gelding by Oratorio was slightly slowly away and then had to check shortly after the start resulting in him trailing the entire field in the early stages.
Glyn Schofield angled him to the outside from the top of the straight and the lightly-raced youngster reeled in his rivals with ease to score running away.
“We’ve always known he was good,” Leemon said.
“He has shown it from day one in his work, his jumpouts, his trials.
“It was all a bit new for him in his first start last time, he got a bit of stage fright under the lights here and still ran a good race, but today he just showed what he’s capable of.”
Warwick Farm-based Leemon, who currently has six horses in work, said he would discuss a possible trip to Brisbane with connections.
“He’ll maybe have one more run, possibly in Brisbane, and then we’ll look to bring him back in the spring,” he said.
“I’ve always been lucky to have a horse in the stable that could gallop and win in town, but the last 12 months or so I’ve had one of those dry runs.
“But I’ve known for six months that I’ve got this horse there waiting.”
Schofield thought he was in trouble spotting the leaders such a start midrace but said when he let the youngster down at the top of the straight the result was never in doubt.
“You can only take positives out of that,” Schofield said.
Earlier in the day apprentice Josh Adams took out the Winning Post Restaurant Handicap (1550m), a heat of the apprentices’ Rising Star Series, when he guided the Chris Waller-trained Valhussle to victory in the famous cerise silks of the Ingham family.
“I’ve only ridden in these colours once before and this is my first win in them,” Adams said.
“Just to have a ride and win for the Inghams and Mr Waller is great.”