The first race for the last meeting at Ascot this season (Southern Habitat Wholesale Nursery HCP 1200m) presented an exciting showdown between two very different horses – the up and coming gelding Vs. the experienced mare.

Exciting 4YO – Hans Up ($2.60 equ fav) stepping up to Saturday class, following three clinical wins in as many starts in provincial and mid-week grade. Mendicity ($2.60 equ fav) had impressed in its 15 start career, having only missed a cheque on four occasions, and banking nearly $160K in prize money. Punters were unable to split the pair, literally tossing the proverbial coin to aid in the decision process, but despite sharing favouritism the outcome to the race would be quite different.

Both horses commenced quickly from their respective barriers, with jockey Troy Turner electing to sit Hans Up behind Mendicity as a battle of tactics ensued. Last start winner I See Luck ($8.50) went with the leaders as a genuine speed was applied to the race. Passing the 400m mark, Turner asked Hans Up for an effort, surging past Mendicity and finding the front a long way from home. But the Hurricane Sky gelding dug deep, holding off a late challenge to salute by a long neck. The Blues ($14.00) rattled home from fifth on the turn for a nail-biting second, with a further two lengths to Military Secret ($10.00) in third. Mendicity failed to see out the trip, capitulating over the concluding stages to bring up the rear of the field.

Trainer Brett Pope was ecstatic with his new stable star, and despite conceding “he’s still learning the caper”, no one can doubt there is a bright future ahead for Hans Up.

Chris Blackwell