After just missing out last year, A Magic Zariz saluted in Tuesday’s Cattleman’s Handicap (1400m) at Warren.
A Magic Zariz finished third in the annual open class event last year but as the class runner in the field on Tuesday he surged to a half-length win.
It was part of a race-to-race double for Coonamble trainer Cecil Hodgson after the veteran had also seen A Martin Placepick score victory.
A Magic Zariz was handed the 61kg top weight for Tuesday’s event and even after the 2kg claim of apprentice hoop Jamie Gibbons he still carried more than the other 10 horses in the $20,000 event.
But it mattered little to the highest-rated galloper in the race as he swept around the field at the top of the bend and powered on to his first win this preparation.
“I didn’t expect him to win at Wellington, 1100m on that track from barrier 10 with 61kg,” Hodgson told Sky Thoroughbred Central after the win, his last start being an ninth-placed finish.
“Anything up from 1400m and up (is his go).”
Despite his class, A Magic Zariz wasn’t massively popular with punters and he jumped as a $9.50 chance.
As expected, frontrunner Our Sarastro ($17) set the pace early before Prettylittlefellow, also trained by Hodgson, hit the lead.
Prettylittlefellow ($71) faded as the field approached the straight but Our Sarastro fought on from Red Knot ($7.50) while Gibbons made his move out wide.
The race quickly became a battle between three and Our Sarastro, boosted by the fact he was only carrying 52.5kg after the claim of Asheligh Stanley, never gave in but A Magic Zariz showed his class and got the best of his rivals to score an eighth win from 21 starts.
Our Sarastro, trained at Dubbo by Connie Greig, was second while Red Knot claimed third for Tamworth trainer Rodney Northam.
The race was one of only three on Tuesday not won by Greg Ryan.
The champion hoop was tipped to dominate the meeting and he did just that by riding four winners. Gibbons, Jake Pracey-Holmes and Anthony Cavallo were the other winning jockeys.