The red-hot Te Akau Racing team added another major trophy to their already bulging summer cabinet when progressive sprinter Splurge scored a telling victory in the Gr. 3 Darley Plate (1200m) at Ellerslie.
Co-trainer Stephen Autridge has made no secret of the regard he holds for the four-year-old Savabeel gelding who collected his first stakes victory and sixth win from just 10 starts with a comprehensive performance.
"He's always been a racehorse who just knows where the winning post is," he explained.
"It doesn't matter whether it's a good track or a wet track he always puts in. We were a bit concerned it may have been a bit short for him today but he's a real racehorse."
Fresh off a comfortable win in rating 85 company over a similar distance a fortnight ago, Splurge took the rise in grade in his stride as he provided leading jockey Opie Bosson with an armchair ride. Trapped wide in the early rush Bosson found the horse the perfect position on the outer after 400 metres as they stalked the pacemakers to the home turn. Taken to the centre of the track Splurge produced a powerful finish to overhaul the eventual runner-up, Volks Lightning, as he cruised home to score by just over a length in a slick 1.09.27 for the 1200 metre journey.
Autridge, co-trainer Jamie Richards and the Te Akau team will now sit down and plan the next move for the gelding which could include a trip across the Tasman.
"We'll go home and make sure he's alright before we decide anything further for him," he said.
"He's come a long way in a short time. We're looking at going to places like Brisbane as he's certainly up to it."
The eye-catching run of the race came from 2016 New Zealand Derby winner Rangipo who stormed home to snatch third in his first run back from a disappointing Australian campaign in the spring.