Wentwood Grange-bred and owned mare Mai Tai delivered a great Christmas present in the Stella Artois Championship Final (1500m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
“I’m really proud of Mai Tai, who has made a lot of progress recently,” trainer Jamie Richards said.
“I was a little worried about her being back right-handed today, but she’s handling everything very professionally in this campaign.
“She’s very effective at what she does.
“She’ll probably have a bit of a break now. We can maybe pick out some black-type targets to have a go at later in the season and work backwards from there.”
Now the winner of three of her seven starts, Mai Tai put the Christmas Carnival spotlight back on the Hawkins family’s Llanhennock Trust.
Next week marks the tenth anniversary of the family’s landmark Gr.1 Railway Stakes (1200m) triumph with Miss Raggedy Ann, who sadly died earlier this season due to foaling complications.
“It’s very exciting,” Des Hawkins said. “This mare’s last-start win at Te Rapa was a big step up, but today was an even bigger task. I thought there would be two or three in that field that would be a bit better than her, but she’s stepped up again.
“Now we’ll keep everything crossed that we can possibly have a go at some black-type later on.”
Mai Tai is by the ill-fated NZ 2000 Guineas winner Atlante out of the winning Faltaat mare Tropical Punch.
Te Akau Racing celebrated a remarkable six winners on the feature day of racing.
“To have six winners on one of the biggest days on the New Zealand calendar is a real testament to our all of our staff at home, and it’s a really exciting day for all of us,” Richards said. - NZ Racing Desk