John Morell was confronted by the worst of times and the best of times at Rotorua when Ryan Mark (Thorn Park) won the Gr. 3 Lochinver Station Arawa Stakes less than a day after his mother Floss passed away.
The respected Taupiri owner-trainer was understandably emotional as Michael Coleman brought the favourite back to scale after a half-head win over Scapolo.
“It’s tough but it’s good too,” Morell said. “My mother passed away at 11.15 last night, now this happens. It means a lot to us.”
Morrell bred and races Ryan Mark in partnership with his daughter Anna Phillips, whose husband Mark shares duties on the family dairy farm as well as with the small but effective racing string.
Ryan Mark’s regular rider Michael Coleman shared the moment with the horse’s connections, acknowledging a plucky performance from a wide draw.
“Good on you Johnny, it’s great to get that win for you,” Coleman said as he unsaddled the Thorn Park gelding. “He had to do it tough but he dug in when it counted.”
Tomorrowland set the pace in the feature sprint with Procurement tracking up behind and just as the latter took command with 200 metres to run, Ryan Mark lodged his claim.
The favourite took the lead by no more than half a length and then had to withstand a strong late bid from Wanganui visitor Scapolo, who was coming with powerful strides but the past arrived too soon.
Procurement held on for third ahead of Tomorrowland and late finisher Fascination Street.