An ambitious plan formulated at a minor New Zealand horse sale a year ago had its crowning moment on Australasia’s biggest stage when Sangster won the Victoria Derby at Flemington.
The victory over Induna from the global Darley operation was a triumph for young New Zealand trainer Trent Busuttin and the second consecutive Derby on a Kiwi for Hugh Bowman.
Busuttin, who turned 32 on Tuesday, was almost lost for words when Sangster ($13) held off Induna ($5.50) by a head with Sabrage ($16) 1-1/4 lengths third at the end of the 2500 metres.
He prepares Sangster for a syndicate which paid $19,000 for the then colt at a ready to run sale.
“It’s just amazing to be here, I can’t describe it,” Busuttin said.
“Everything’s gone according to plan.
“He put in an ordinary gallop on Tuesday but we took solace out of (Cox Plate runner-up) Jimmy Choux doing the same last week.
“We couldn’t do much about it so we carried on.
“We bought him just under 12 months ago at the ready to run sale for $19,000.
“He was a big skinny horse but we gelded him and he filled out and he showed he could gallop from day one.”
Busuttin brought Sangster to Sydney in August to experience Australian racing. He won one race then was placed three times in four runs leading up to Saturday’s Derby.
Bowman won last year’s Derby on Lion Tamer and answered the call when New Zealand’s champion rider James McDonald was sacked after Sangster ran second to Sabrage in the Norman Robinson Stakes.
Bowman took Sangster to the front before the home turn and the gelding sustained a long run down the straight as raging favourite Manawanui ($2.50) tried to keep in touch but weakened to finish sixth.
“Trent Busuttin, a young New Zealand trainer, he’s done a magnificent job and I’d like to thank him and the connections for giving me the opportunity,” Bowman said.
“I’d like to take up New Zealand residency, it’s a terrific thrill and it’s the cream of the crop when it comes to racing in Australia.
“I feel honoured to have won it a couple of times now.”
Bowman said he managed to negotiate his way out of trouble when there was a scrimmage going out of the straight early in the race and was in a good position when he went to the front.
“I was in a good spot and when I was three deep with cover, I was happy to be there,” he said.
“He’s a big-striding horse and I’ve ridden him work.
“I didn’t want to go when I did but the horse in front of me punctured. If I didn’t go forward, they would have fallen into my lap.
“I held onto him as much as I could. I could feel Induna coming but my horse wasn’t tiring.”
Induna’s effort to finish as close as he did was highlighted by the fact he was inconvenienced when the trouble happened.
“It’s disappointing when things go wrong in these big races,” jockey Kerrin McEvoy said.
“The interference was bad. I still ended up in the same place in the run, but being inconvenienced like that doesn’t help.”
Glyn Schofield said Manawanui was gallant but found the 2500 metres just a bridge too far.
But all honours were with Busuttin and his jubilant owners who will celebrate hard but not for too long.
“It will be a hard trip home on the plane,” Busuttin said.
“I’ve got to go back tomorrow, I’ll be mucking out boxes on Monday.
“But we’ll be here next year for the Melbourne Cup for sure, that’s the dream.