Promising three-year-old Scorpz (Charm Spirit) overcame a wide run in transit to nab his second stakes victory in succession when he outstayed his age-group rivals in Sunday’s Listed Hynds 3YO Salver (2100m) at Ellerslie.
The Stephen Marsh-trained galloper has made steady improvement in recent months which culminated in a maiden victory over 1400m at Te Rapa in early November at his sixth career start.
That win saw Marsh tackle stakes company with the Charm Spirit gelding for the first time in the Gr.3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) at Otaki just over a fortnight ago where he produced another strong finishing burst to make it two wins on the bounce.
Sunday’s 2100m contest provided a valuable test for those three-year-olds with aspirations for the middle-distance age group classics later in the summer, with Scorpz passing that examination with flying colours after nothing went right for him during the run.
Settled near last by rider Jason Waddell after jumping from an outside barrier, Scorpz began to over race as the tempo eased mid-race.
Waddell took the initiative to go forward but was trapped three-wide before looming into contention five-deep on the home corner.
Tackled by Rendition and then Tibetan, Scorpz fought back bravely to win by a neck at the line, much to the relief of Waddell who admitted the ride wasn’t text-book.
“It was far from pretty but it was effective,” Waddell said.
“The speed came out of the race and I was sitting back second last and thought if I stay back here it’s just going to be too hard for him.
“I pulled out three wide with no cover and just let him move. I let Leith (Innes, aboard Rendition) go past me on purpose just so he could fight back and he kicked back strongly.
“I don’t think there is any worry about him getting the Derby distance as he pretty much went that today.”
Waddell was referring to the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) on February 29, a target that Marsh has firmly in his sights for his charge.
“I was a little bit nervous going out of the straight the first time as I thought he was going to be stuck three-wide,” Marsh said.
“You’ve got to put your faith in the jockey and he (Scorpz) was very tough to the line in his first run over ground.
“He covered all that ground and still kicked so it was a top effort.
“He is going to be a lovely stayer with a very big future.
“We will work back from the Derby now as he has had his run over ground, we’ve been to Ellerslie and we can do basically what we like now.
“We’ll see how he comes through this and then map out the best plan to get him to the Derby.”
Carrying the colours of the Carter family, who bred and part-own him under their Jomara Bloodstock banner, Scorpz had now won three of his eight career starts.