Ōtaki Trainer Howie Mathews continued on his winning way when his stable star Sampson produced a courageous win in the $35,000 Egmont Cup at Hawera on Saturday.
The six-year-old gelding, who hadn’t raced for eight months, proved too strong over the final stages to claim victory in a three-horse battle at the line.
“It’s hard when a horse hasn’t raced for eight months. I thought they would go too quick for him and he would be off the pace,” said Ōtaki trainer Howie Mathews.
“I told Lisa (rider Lisa Allpress) to settle him back in the field and let him run on. I was bit worried when he was three wide and then four or five wide on the turn, but he’s a good one-paced stayer and he just kept coming.”
Mathews said Sampson had only had two trials leading into the Kaponga Hotel Egmont Cup.
“He went well in both. He’s maturing into a beautiful horse and he can stay well. He nearly ran 3200m today, he was that wide. He showed last year, he would make a good stayer and with a bit of luck he will.”
Sampson would probably race next in the Rangitikei Cup in two weeks, said Mathews with the Group 2 Wellington Cup over 3200m in January the main target.
Mathews, who only has 10 horses in work, said the win was particularly pleasing for owner Peter Izett.
“Peter’s wife Nancy dies suddenly two months ago. She was a big part in what we did. It’s pretty special for Peter to win this race. He didn’t come up, he stayed at home to watch the race on TV.”
Sampson needed to be good to win, fighting strongly to the line to beat the favourite King Kamada who just pipped Stratford-trained I Suggest in a blanket finish.