Cambridge Stud owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay continued their wonderful winning streak of late when talented galloper Hanger resumed off a long spell with an eye-catching performance at Awapuni.
Bred by Waikato Stud, who share in the ownership of the O’Reilly four-year-old with the Lindsays, Hanger was having his first race since finishing runner-up in the Gr.3 Cambridge Breeders Stakes (1200m) at Te Rapa back in April.
Sent out as one of the main fancies in Saturday’s rating 82 contest, Hanger didn’t disappoint as he bounced nicely from an inside barrier before settling in the trail for rider Leith Innes.
Innes had a lapful of horse approaching the home turn as he waited for a gap to appear before launching his bid at the 300m mark. Hanger responded gamely under a hands and heels ride as he eased past pacemaker Blondlign to score comfortably in a smart 1.09.73 for the 1200m journey.
Co-trainer Robert Wellwood, who prepares the gelding with Roger James, was delighted to see the classy galloper make a winning return to the track.
“It was wonderful to see him come back like that as we have had our frustrations with him,” Wellwood said.
“He had a good long break over the winter and we brought him back for some spring targets, but he has had a few niggles along the way which has held him up from making a return until now.
“We weren’t sure just how well he would go as he didn’t have the benefit of a trial under his belt and the pressure of raceday can find them out.
“Leith was able to give him a fairly easy time of it and he got the job done in fine fashion.”
Wellwood advised the stable would now monitor the horse’s recovery before deciding on the next assignment although a Group One challenge is an obvious target.
“He holds a nomination for the Telegraph at Trentham, so he had to have a run if he is going to take on that challenge,” he said.
“Provided he comes through this run okay then we will make a decision if that is the best option for him.
“With the set weights and penalties criteria of the race he is not well placed compared to some, but it is a Group One and they don’t come around that often.”
The Gr.1 JR and N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) is on January 19 at Trentham.
Awapuni proved a happy hunting ground for the James & Wellwood partnership on Saturday as Hanger completed a winning double for the stable after talented, but injury plagued sprinter, Killarney had taken out the open 1400m event earlier in the day.