Trainer John Morell broke a long-standing hoodoo at New Zealand’s premier racing venue when he produced Ryan Mark (Thorn Park) to win the Gr. 1 Sistema Railway Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
The Taupiri dairy farmer was confident he had more than a runners’ chance on this occasion with the final piece of the jigsaw falling into place as persistent rain softened the Ellerslie track surface.
“We’ve been trying to win a race here for plenty of years now but we haven’t been able to crack it,” he said.
“I’ve had any number of seconds and won one without a jockey one day so I guess we were entitled to get one sooner or later.
“I knew we had him ready for the race and with Opie Bosson on board we were in with a good chance.
Morell was full of praise for Bosson who retained his perfect strike rate on the son of Thorn Park having now won four from four on the gelding.
Bosson bounced the race favourite out of his inside barrier draw and settled beautifully on the outside of pacemaker Allez Eagle for the duration of the race.
Allez Eagle (Guillotine) tried to slip his rivals at the corner as he put a length on Ryan Mark however Bosson soon rallied his mount back on level terms as the pair set down to fight out the finish.
Ryan Mark dug deep to lunge just short of the post and grab Allez Eagle by a neck.
“He jumped brilliantly and settled into a good rhythm for me,” noted Bosson after the race.
“I thought Allez Eagle might have me when he went a length in front but to my bloke’s credit he has dug in and was very strong to the line.”
It was a true family affair for Morell who co-owns and bred Ryan Mark with his daughter Anna, from Kingdom Bay mare Annalee.
The win gave Windsor Park’s former Champion Sire, Thorn Park the world's first Gr.1 winner for 2016.
“We’ve bred some really nice horses from the mare but this guy is clearly the best,” he said.
“We never got to see the best of Annalee but hopefully now we’ve done her proud with this win.”