Former Hong Kong galloper Flying Ibis proved leading South Island rider Chris Johnson was spot on in a recent assessment of his future prospects with an effortless victory at Riccarton on Saturday.
Johnson had ridden the seven-year-old gelding in his first run of a new campaign at Wingatui earlier in the month and told co-trainer Michael Pitman he would win his next start. True to his word Johnson and Flying Ibis delivered in style as they cruised to a one and three quarter length victory that had Pitman more than satisfied with the effort.
"Chris got off him at Wingatui and told me whatever beats this horse at his next start will have to be good," explained Pitman after the race.
"I appreciate it that Chris booked himself to ride him today no matter what else was in the race."
Pitman also acknowledged the softer underfoot conditions on the day had played in favour of his charge who was a winner in Hong Kong before returning to Tony Pike's Cambridge stable where he won again before finding his way to Pitman and son Matthew's Riccarton barn.
"The rain and irrigation we've had just played into his hands perfectly," he said.
"I've got to thank Jim Bruford for getting the horse. The horse was basically retired but Jim spoke to the right people and asked if they could give us a go with him.
"We formed a syndicate that Jim stayed in, along with my brothers and one of my stable staff and it has gone from there.
"I thought I could win the Timaru Cup but the rock-hard tracks get to him so the rain today was ideal. Going forward he might be a Winter Cup contender."
Flying Ibis has now won four of 9 starts for the Pitman team and has taken his career earnings in excess of the $225,000 mark.