EMERGING star Mah Sish ($8.50) continued New Zealand’s hold on the PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup, 2710m, with a brilliant victory in the group 1 feature last night.
Christchurch-based brothers Tim and Anthony Butt combined to claim their second win in the race following Stunin Cullen’s triumph in 2011.
Their success was backed-up the following year by fellow Kiwi Highview Tommy, who stormed down the outside to pip the highly-fancied Sushi Sushi on the line.
And it was a case of de ja vu for Sushi Sushi’s connections last night with Mah Sish grabbing the Freddy Taiba-trained favourite in the shadows of the post to win the $150,000 event.
The pair had a margin on third-placed Mach Alert, with Smoken Up, who poured on the pressure outside of early leader Sushi Sushi for much of the race, finishing fourth.
“We were hoping, but it’s never easy at this level. They were all great horses in that field,” driver Anthony Butt said after the race.
“I was hoping to settle not too far back from the second-row draw (barrier nine). He got a pretty good run through early and then I just made my move when I did and he really stuck it out well.
“I was hopeful turning for home, he felt really good and he dug deep, but the other horse took a long time to get past. It was really a fight right to the line.”
Mah Sish’s victory, his second in Australia, follows his runner-up placings in both the Victoria and Bendigo cups this preparation.
Trainer Tim Butt said the horse would now be targeted at next Saturday night’s Hunter Cup.
“This horse is a bit of a project, we’ve paid a lot of money for him and the owners are getting rewarded with our faith and judgement,” he said.
Last year’s winner Highview Tommy didn’t contest the Cup this time around, but ensured he was still in the feature race spotlight with a front-running victory in The Pure Steel.
Meanwhile, Mister Zion and Dr Hook claimed respective heats of the Australasian Trotting Championship and Allawart Toby a heat of the Victorian Monte Championship, for ridden trotters, last night. Allawart Toby was awarded the race after stewards relegated first-past-the-post Andys Favourite.