Almost 18 months after his last win, Harper’s Choice has ended up on the right side of ledger with victory in the Listed Winter Cup at Rosehill.
His campaigns between wins have been frustrating for the Gerald Ryan stable, exacerbated by his second to Jon Snow in the 2017 Australian Derby.
“He has paid the price for his second in the Derby. He has to carry 58 and 59 kilos in benchmark races because of it,” Ryan’s son and foreman Blake said.
Harper’s Choice ($3) carried 53.5kg in Saturday’s race which was reduced to a field of five after scratchings.
Brenton Avdulla took him straight to the front and the pair never relinquished that position, holding off a gallant Destiny’s Choice ($11) by a half length at the ends of the 2400m with the latter carrying 61kg.
“With the scratchings, Harper’s Choice looked like the leader and that’s what happened. He led for fun,” Ryan said.
“It’s great for the owner Peter Campbell who bred him.
“Dad had the Queensland Cup over 3200 metres in mind for him in a couple of weeks but I’m not sure if that will still be the aim after that win.”
Ryan said they had put Harper’s Choice over a few small hurdles this week which had helped keep him sharp.
“I tried to pinch a gap on them,” Avdulla said.
“I knew something was coming late but the horse is going well.”
The disappointment of the race was the $2.45 favourite Sayed who finished last of the five runners.
Jockey Sam Weatherley told stewards Sayed had not settled for the first part of the race and had given him a hard time.
“He only came back to me at the 1800 metres,” he said.
“He is a very difficult horse to ride.”