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ALI BABA FLIES HOME IN HURDLE

Nerve-wracking until the last obstacle is cleared, jumps racing has an atmosphere all of its own.

Six lengths clear approaching the last hurdle, and looking the best of good things, Ali Baba (7 g Savabeel – Dreamworks, by Maroof) sailed home to win the $15,000 Fiber Fresh Stables BBQ Maiden Hurdle (2800m) on Saturday at Te Rapa.

A winner of five on the flat up to 2000 metres, including a fresh-up victory over 2000 metres on the course a fortnight earlier, Ali Baba has also impressed trainers Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard with his jumping prowess.

Finishing fourth could easily have resulted in victory when debuting over hurdles in June last year at Hastings, and a couple of subsequent efforts were on very testing ground.

Kept fit with farm work during lockdown, Ali Baba had thrived since his recent victory, paraded in outstanding order, and gave a faultless display under Reece Cole.

“He dropped the bit and towed me into it,” Cole said, while being congratulated by former Champion Jumps Jockey Tommy Hazlett, who said: “You could not have ridden him any better and that’s the way to ride him.”

Gerard was not only pleased with the performance by Ali Baba, but also complimentary of the racing club and sponsor Fibre Fresh.

“He has been in a good frame of mind and looks fantastic,” Gerard said. “Well done to Te Rapa for putting a track up like they have today. The weather has been horrendous all week, so to get a Slow9 is terrific.

“We buy a lot of Fibre Fresh feed. It is great feed and they do a great job helping trainers out. And, thank you for the BBQ that they provide at the stables for the staff. It’s a fantastic initiative and sometimes they have very little time on race day to get something to eat, so great work by the club and Fibre Fresh.”

For owners Barry & Deirdre Neville-White, Ali Baba continued a terrific relationship they have shared with Ballymore Stables.

“Although he’s not here, Barry (Neville-White) is a fantastic man in racing,” Gerard said. “He’s a big supporter and absolutely loves it. It’s always a special thrill to train a winner in his colours. He was very excited after Ali Baba won here a fortnight ago and to turnaround and win a hurdle he’ll be super excited again.”

Neville-White is nearing 160 wins as an owner and been a long-time supporter of Mike Moroney and Ballymore Stables.

“Mike has trained 61 or 62 winners for me now and I’ve had horses with him since he started training,” Neville-White said.

“You can’t fault the way Pam has trained him and the boy rode him perfectly. I’m loyal to people and very easy to train for. I leave it to her and she keeps me informed. Tommy (Hazlett) has ridden jumps winners for me, too, and he won the Great Western and Otago Steeplechase for me, trained by Brian Anderton.

“I knew Ali Baba jumps very well. He recently won a jumps trial before he won here on the flat. I think there could be a couple more flat wins in him too. He can go on with it now.”

Ali Baba was selected as a yearling by Paul Moroney and purchased for $70,000 at the 2014 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Sale, from the draft of Kirkwall Thoroughbreds. His dam, Dreamworks, won the Royal Stakes (Gr. 2, 2000m) and grand-dam Slanchyvah (Kaapstad) finished third in the NZ Oaks (Gr. 1, 2400m).

He is from the family of Grey Song (Unbridled’s Song), winner of the Blamey Stakes, Chairman’s Handicap, St Leger, second in the Caulfield Cup, and Herbert Power Stakes, with A$1.9m in prize money.

Ali Baba carries a Sir Tristram cross through Zabeel, the sire of Savabeel, and Kaapstad, the sire of Slanchyvah.

Ali Baba was strapped by Archie Hazlett. “That was beautiful,” he said, following the win.
[18 Jul 20]

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