Elation: Grant Campbell holding New Zealand Cup champion Arden Rooney
Twelve months ago, he was eating the dust of his stablemate Adore Me.
Today, Arden Rooney claimed the country’s greatest prize in winning the Gr.1 $750,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup at Addington, Christchurch.
Now prepared by leading Australian horseperson Kerryn Manning, Arden Rooney led throughout to defeat a game Smolda and Mossdale Conner in the 3200m stand start feature in a time of 3:57.4.
And the triumph now elevates her into rare air because a female reinsperson has never driven a Cup winner prior to today.
“This is my greatest achievement in the sport and I’m so thrilled to win this race, it’s a race that everyone involved in the sport appreciates and to win is just unbelieveable. I’ve got to make special mention of my husband Grant (Campbell) for all of his work with this horse and to Merv and Meg (Butterworth – owners) for showing the faith in me to train this horse.” A jubilant Manning stated.
The transformation over the last twelve months has been extraordinary, leaving the all-conquering All Stars stables of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and switching to Manning's Great Western stables in country Victoria has proven to be an absolute masterstroke.
Under the care of Manning, Arden Rooney has added the Hunter, Geelong, Mildura, Terang and Swan Hill Cups before winning the greatest staying contest staged in the southern hemisphere today.
And plenty more beckons for the six-year-old Bettors Delight – Tosca Hanover gelding.
The victory provided Manning with her 41st Group One winner while adding to her tally of more than 3500 lifetime winners to date.
Following a brilliant beginning, the stand start specialist dictated terms in front while his rivals jostled for early positions.
And while rival drivers were plotting and planning their moves to bring about the undoing of the Australian visitor, Manning continued to march to the beat of the drum of Arden Rooney.
With a moderate speed being set in front, many of her rivals became fierce and agitated.
At the top of the straight, Arden Rooney and Smolda edged clear of their rivals and staged a great stretch duel but the Australian trained star was superior on the line lasting by a head margin while another 4 lengths back to Mossdale Conner, Franco Nelson and Messini.
“I was really confident once we landed in front and then we copped no pressure which suited me just nicely, I knew he was fit enough and I was happy to have them chasing me over the final mile.
“Merv always promised me a good horse and he’s delivered with Rooney, it’s just unbelievable what he achieved in the timeframe he’s been with me. Both Merv and Meg really deserve a horse like this because they put so much in through ownership and sponsorship, and Mark (Purdon) was the first to congratulate me after the race which was really great.”
The next obvious major target for Arden Rooney is another shot at defending his Hunter Crown crown next February.
The victory of Arden Rooney provided champion sire Bettors Delight with back to back victories in the New Zealand following the success of Adore Me last year.