Hauraki has stormed home for a maiden win at the highest level in an exciting edition of the featured Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Drawn well in barrier 10, Hauraki experienced a care-free jump but was settled off the early pace by jockey James McDonald as Fabrizio took up the lead and strung out the Epsom Handicap field.
French jockey Johan Victoire continued to press Fabrizio forward and rounding onto the final straight, the five-year-old had drawn out to nearly a ten length lead and would take plenty of beating.
A chasing pack including the likes of Le Romain, Dibayani and Happy Clapper managed to reel in Fabrizio with 200m to travel, but it was the barnstorming run of Hauraki down the outside of the pack which drew all the focus, and the five-year-old returned to the winner’s circle for the second time this season.
Dibayani was unlucky to be bobbed on the line and was again denied his first Group 1 crown, while the Chris Waller-trained Mackintosh produced another classy performance to finish third.
McDonald delivered a gem of a ride on Hauraki to win the Epsom Handicap but was quick to lay all the praise on the horse and the Godolphin team after crossing the line.
“Nothing went right early, but we’ve got the best staff at home and what they do with these horses, I just sit on them, point them in the right direction and they just fire,” McDonald said.
“Obviously he’s been a bridesmaid so many times. He went up to the Brisbane Carnival and ran second.
“To come away with an Epsom win, John’s timed his preparation to perfection so between him and the team, all of the credit goes to him.”
Trainer John O’Shea was thrilled with Hauraki’s performance for success in the Epsom Handicap and was pleased that the horse was able to translate his form in work onto the race track.
“I was watching Palentino and he didn’t look to be travel too good, and we were hoping he was going to bring us up the rise,” O’Shea said.
“But Mac, as he always does, got the right option. We knew we had the horse right and gee, he came quick today.
“It’s just been a great team effort getting him prepared and then you come here today and you get one of those James McDonald specials. It’s a very special day for the team.
“We didn’t even get to cheer because he came that quickly. It’s just fantastic.”
In being crowned the 2016 Epsom Handicap winner, Hauraki has now posted an impressive five wins and nine minors through only twenty career starts.