Progressive galloper Uderzo made the best possible start to a new campaign when he powered through the heavy underfoot conditions at Tauranga to claim a comfortable victory in the Tauranga Hardware Plumbing Handicap (1200m).
Carrying topweight of 59.5kgs, the Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott-trained gelding had warmed up for his season opener with a handy effort for second behind quality sprinting mare Babylon Berlin over 900m at the Te Rapa trials last month.
Rider Masa Hashizume had the son of Vadamos away well to settle in a handy position behind pacemaker Kiva Han and made his move to join issue approaching the home bend.
Uderzo was simply cruising as he went past Kiva Han and shot clear to win handsomely from Gwen’s Daughter and Butterfield who both finished on resolutely wider on the track.
O’Sullivan was at Riccarton putting the final touches on Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) candidates Molly Bloom and Grande Gallo but had managed to catch the Tauranga action to witness the victory.
“He (Uderzo) is a horse that has always had ability but has taken a while to put it all together,” O’Sullivan said.
“It was nice to see him settle a lot better today and he ended up in a good spot where he could bide his time to make a challenge.
“He got through the ground but we have always thought he is better on a firm surface so that was a handy win.”
O’Sullivan and Scott will sit down early in the week to discuss where to go now with the five-year-old as a likely rating rise will take him out of the Rating 75 grade.
“We had debated on whether to run him today but there wasn’t a suitable race for at least another three weeks so we pushed the button and it proved the right decision,” he said.
“We will have to see where he is rated now as he will probably go to the open grade with that win.
“He has such a high cruising speed that we do think he is going to be best at 1400m so that is what we will be looking at over the next few starts.”
Purchased by Wexford Stables for $125,000 out of Rich Hill Stud’s 2020 Book1 draft at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale, Uderzo has now won four of his 11 starts and over $111,000 in prizemoney.
Out of the Pentire mare Etosha Lass, his extended family includes brilliant Australian sprinter and successful stallion Canny Lad who took out the 1990 Gr.1 Golden Slipper (1200m) along with a host of notable Australian Group One winners including Camarena, Canny Lass, Guelph and Sepoy.