Victory by promising three-year-old filly Windspeed brought up a special milestone for trainer Stephen Marsh on Saturday as he claimed 100 wins in a season for the first time in his career.
Marsh had moved to 99 wins on Thursday after a victory by Five Princes at Ashburton and was hopeful that he could collect another on Saturday at Te Rapa.
He didn’t have to wait long for success as the daughter of Tavistock took out the opening event over 1200m after a superb tactical ride by Sam Weatherley.
Marsh had a sizeable team entered on the day and was relieved to get the special victory on the board as quickly as he did.
“We had quite a big team in, although none of them were favourites for their races and there wasn’t one I could label as a red-hot winning prospect,” he said.
“I guess I was hoping to pick up a win by sheer weight of numbers and when Windspeed got home it took a heap of pressure off.
“She is a gutsy filly who has really improved this campaign and I think she has more wins in store.
“She is strengthening all the time, but I do think it was lucky she was in the first race as the track was very testing later on and she got to use the best ground there was on the day.”
Marsh also admitted that the celebrations for the 100th winner have been put on hold until all of his staff are in a position to celebrate the achievement.
“It was a big day on Saturday so when I got home, I was pretty tired so I just watched the rugby and had an early night,” he said.
“We have been talking about celebrating as a team which is what I want to do as everyone in our stable has contributed to getting to where we have, so it is only right that everyone is included.
“Things like this just don’t happen overnight and it has taken a lot of hard work by some committed and dedicated people to make it happen and I want to thank everyone, from our owners through to my stable staff for playing their role in making it a reality.”
Marsh was hoping there would be a double celebration on the day as he currently sits on 899 career wins and needs just one more to hit the 900 mark.
“People had said to me we were up for a double celebration if we could get two wins on Saturday but it wasn’t to be,” he said.
“I’m not too worried as I’m sure we can knock that one off before the end of the season and have another reason to let our hair down a bit.
“The burning goal for next season is to crack that 1000 training wins mark as that would be something very special and something I really want to achieve.”
Marsh currently sits in second place on the National trainers’ premiership behind the 117-mark set by Jamie Richards before he departed to take up a training role in Hong Kong and knows he won’t be able to make up the deficit before the end of the season on July 31.
“I think we might have another three or four wins left in us for the month and we won’t get anywhere near Jamie’s tally,” he said.
“What I would like to do though is to crack the $3 million mark for prizemoney won as we have only around $83,000 left to achieve that.
“If we can’t do it this year then it will go towards the top of our goals for next season as that is what we are striving for, to win as many races as we can, to lift our strike rate in the black type races and to improve our returns to our loyal owners through increased prizemoney earnings.
“I’m already excited about what the next 12 months hold as we have an exciting team of youngsters coming through for the spring and beyond and once this season is over, we will be ready to lift our game again as I think we are in a great position to do that.”