Shinn breaks his NZ duck in best possible way Thu, 16 Mar 2017

Dennis Ryan
Summer Passage (Blake Shinn) takes the Gr. 1 Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie today.
Summer Passage (Blake Shinn) takes the Gr. 1 Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie today.
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Blake Shinn broke his New Zealand duck in the best possible manner with a superb winning ride on Summer Passage in the Gr. 1 Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie today.

On his third trip to northern headquarters and only weeks after finishing second in the Karaka Million on Hasahalo, Shinn came up with the perfect result on a colt going places. He had been a late call-up at the request of Summer Passage’s Hong Kong owners after another Australian jockey, Zac Purton, had been unable to get a second release from his Hong Kong duties following the postponement from the original Saturday schedule.

One of the main reasons for calling in an Australian jockey was for trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott to gain a second opinion with a view to a start in next month’s A$1 million Sires’ Produce Stakes at Randwick.

The strapping colt enhanced his $800,000 yearling price tag with a plucky win in today’s $200,000 feature and now his connections must make the call whether to pit him against Sydney’s best to take him into another stratosphere.

Both Shinn and O’Sullivan were playing their cards close after Summer Passage had crossed from the outside gate to share the pace first with Ujjayyi and then with Felton Road. The big bay had an excuse if he was to wilt in the straight, but instead Shinn was able to kick him clear and get him home by three-quarters of a length despite a wayward path over the final 300 metres.  

“He’s a seriously good horse, don’t worry,” said Shinn. “They didn’t give him any peace but he travelled strong all the way and then when he took over he got a bit lost.

“I think they should be allowed to enjoy this win today and then make up their minds about Sydney.”

That’s exactly what the Summer Passage entourage intended to do, with O’Sullivan prepared to see how Summer Passage comes out of what was a tough run before discussing the immediate future with Hong Kong owner Eugene Chuang.

Today’s win completed a Group One double for horses racing out of Wexford Stables in Chuang’s red and green colours, after former Hong Kong galloper Willie Cazals won the Livamol Classic at Hastings in October.

Star Treasure got closest to Summer Passage at the end of the Sistema Stakes, hitting the line hard from well back, with Gold Fever a game third a length and quarter away. She lost her position in an early skirmish and after sneaking runs up the inside was in a challenging position on the turn and kept going bravely all the way to the line.

The winner’s stablemate Princess Rihanna was next home from Hasahalo, who was last out of the gates, and the early leader Ujjayyi.