Day At The Track

Winning on debut

03:00 PM 19 Dec 2016 NZDT
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Stuart Leadley was over the moon when Alta Maestro won the first Young Guns Heat at Alexandra Park last Friday night, but 2-year-olds winning on debut is something the Ashburton owner is used to.

Leadley and his wife Liz have also witnessed Alta Las Vegas, Dream To Reality, and Franco Cristiano win as juveniles on debut. The Leadleys own the former two and have a fifth share in Franco Cristiano.

Like Alta Maestro, the trio are trained by Robert Dunn. He also won the first 2-year-old race of the season with The Brooklyn Brawler at Alexandra Park on December 9.

“It was well worth the trip last week and we will be back again on New Year’s Eve to watch hopefully him, Alta Las Vegas and Franco Cristiano run.

“We knew he was pretty good and anticipated the win but nothing is certain in racing. This is the best possible way to ignite a career,” Leadley said.

Leadley made the trip north to watch Alta Maestro win the $25,000 Breckon Farms Young Guns heat. He was driven by Dexter Dunn and won by one-and-three-quarter lengths from favourite Spankem (Mark Purdon).

The 2-year-old Art Major colt paced the 1700m mobile in 2:02.7 (mile rate 1:56.1) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.2 and 27.5. She was the $3.30 second favourite. The Brooklyn Brawler finished ninth

He had gone into his debut run with a first and a second at the Pukekohe and Auckland workouts and trials on November 19 and December 10. He recorded 2:06.4 and 2:06.6 mile rates on those days.

“We paid $100,000 for him at this year’s (Australasian Classic) Yearling Sales at Karaka. I initially said to Robert when he saw him at the pre-sale that I wasn’t going to buy him, but he convinced me.

“Robert said he was the nicest colt he had ever seen and predicted he would fetch $130,000. He made me change my mind and we paid $100,000 for him. He’s a half brother to Alta Las Vegas (by Bettor’s Delight) and that was good enough for me,” Leadley said.

The Leadleys paid $77,500 for Alta Las Vegas at the 2014 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale. He was their first solo purchase and has since gone on to win three races as well as a placing in last year’s Group Three Sapling Stakes.

In 2014 the Leadleys also went in on a $92,500 purchase for Franco Cristiano at the New Zealand Premier Sale at Addington.

“The only reason I changed my mind and bought Alta Maestro was because his older sister, Alta Teresa (by American Ideal) won some money for me when I had a place bet on her,” Leadley said.

Alta Maestro is the fifth of seven foals out of the five win ($45,320) In the Pocket mare, Alta Camilla. She was trained by Paul Kerr at Ohoka.

“Hopefully Alta Maestro will give a good account of himself and do well in the Young Guns Final next year. For now we hope he goes real well on Saturday week in his second juvenile race.

“We will be making the trip back to Alexandra Park,” the 70-year-old retired dairy farmer said.

Leadley’s first race-day winner (October 2, 2012 - Addington) was the Elsu gelding Crackaheiny, who won seven of his 22 starts in New Zealand before being exported to Australia in July 2014.

Duane Ranger

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