A horse that cost just $42,500 at the Ready to Run Sale rose to the pinnacle of New Zealand racing when he won the country's most prestigious classic, the $1m Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on Saturday.
After a low-key start to his career, Gingernuts (NZ) (Iffraaj) burst into prominence and into Derby contention with a last-to-first victory in last month's Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m).
On Saturday he stepped up to the big time in the Derby and proved his last-start win was no fluke. Opie Bosson placed him in sixth spot one off the rail before going for gold at exactly the right moment. He charged down the outside, briefly laying in before pinning his ears back and striding past Rising Red (NZ) (Redwood) to win by an emphatic length.
"What a huge thrill," said Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis, who bought the chestnut at the Ready to Run Sale and assembled the Te Akau Gingernuts Syndicate – an ecstatic group of more than 30 people, most of whom were on course at Ellerslie and wearing matching orange "G-Nuts" caps.
Gingernuts has now had seven starts for four wins and a placing, earning $671,250 in stakes – more than 15 times his purchase price.
Gingernuts was one of two Te Akau purchases at the 2015 Ready to Run Sale. The other was Hall Of Fame (NZ) (Savabeel), who was bought for $230,000 and also went on to become a Group 1 winner. He took out the $200,000 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham in January.
"We bought two horses at that Ready to Run Sale, and they were Gingernuts and Hall of Fame," Ellis said. "What they've gone on to do is amazing.
"Gingernuts has always been an outstanding-looking horse, and Stephen and Jamie and all the staff have done a great job to get him here and win the Derby."
Gingernuts was bred by Goodwood Stud, who sold him as a weanling in 2014 for $5,000. He returned at the Ready to Run Sale the following year in the draft of Stainley Park.
The third placegetter in the Derby, Jon Snow (NZ) (Iffraaj), was also a Karaka graduate – bought by co-trainer Andrew Forsman for $65,000 from the draft of Haunui Farm at the 2015 Select Sale.
Weanling Sale: Goodwood Stud Ltd
Ready to Run Sale: Stainley Park
Weanling Sale: Phill Cataldo Bloodstock (Whanganui)
Ready to Run Sale: Te Akau Racing (Te Akau)
|Breeding||Iffraaj – Double Elle|
Lot 272, 2014 National Weanling, Broodmare & Mixed Bloodstock Sale, $5,000
Lot 235, 2015 Ready to Run Sale, $42,500