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Heavy track delight for Highlighter

A strong tempo and heavy track conditions at Pukekohe Park on Saturday was the perfect winning combination for Highlighter, as the talented mare put her rivals away comfortably in the Barfoot & Thompson 1100.

While the daughter of Shamexpress is more than capable on a good surface, she really comes into her own through the soft-track period, as she displayed last year with three consecutive wins through July and August, before capping off her campaign with a runner-up finish behind classy galloper Sacred Satono.

Highlighter returned to the trials in mid-March and finished third first-up to the races at Te Rapa behind Turn The Ace, giving her trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott a vote of confidence heading into Saturday’s open sprint.

With the exception of Group Three winner Johny Johny carrying the 59kg topweight, the remaining three runners in a compact line-up sat between 51-54kg, Highlighter at 53kg aided by Triston Moodley’s three-kilogram claim.

Highlighter was tardily away from barrier three alongside Johny Johny, but the speedy frontrunner soon assumed a position three-wide outside of Winning For All and Caitlyn’s Wish, while the mare settled as far as six lengths detached in the mid-stages.

Moodley allowed his mount to slide up to the remainder of the pack turning for home and found clear air between runners at the 250m, striding through the testing track to score by 1 ¾ lengths from Caitlyn’s Wish.

Matamata-based Scott was delighted to see the mare earn her sixth career success, indicating time had been a positive for the rising eight-year-old.

“We had high levels of confidence going into today, she was coming up really well this preparation,” he said.

“Her trials and first-up run were really encouraging as she just peaked on her run the last little bit but she took good improvement from there.

“She can be a bit tardy away from the gates and she was that way today, but Triston showed good patience.

“He’s a three-kilo claimer which is a massive aid at this time of the year in the soft tracks, and he kept her balanced and didn’t panic. He did a great job.

“It was great to see this mare back in winning form, she’s a great advertisement for giving a horse time as she’s an older horse with relatively low starts. We’ve really reaped the rewards of longevity out of her.”

Wexford Stables and Andrew Williams Bloodstock purchased Highlighter for $40,000 at the 2018 Karaka Yearling Sales, an investment well returned as she surpassed the $200,000 mark in stakes on Saturday.

“She’s been an incredibly consistent, honest mare all her life and she just continues to deliver,” Scott said.

“She’ll be certainly in for a good winter preparation, she’s a sound mare with great constitution and she continues to thrive in the racing environment.

“It would be lovely to get some black-type for her to go to the broodmare paddock with, but where we find that is another thing.

“We’ll just keep her in the open 1200’s over the winter months, and she’ll hopefully pick up another nice win through this campaign.”

Bred by Monovale Holdings, Highlighter is out of the unraced Black Minnaloushe mare Donnidi Sulina with her grand-dam Sulina a half-sister to multiple Group One winner Pace Invader. 


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