WHEN James Dean’s owners decided to relocate him from New Zealand to Australia late last year, it was with the view to have him hunt for success in feature cup races on country tracks.
On Friday night he delivered to take out the annual Oberon Cup (2,260 metres) at the Bathurst Paceway.
Robbie Morris was in the gig as James Dean ($5.40) battled with Bernie Hewitt’s Lets Katchmeifucan ($11.80) after turning for home, the five-year-old Kiwi kicking clear in the final 50m.
He won by 1.3m in a 1:56.5 mile rate, making it three wins from four starts since joining the Menangle Park stable of Kerryann Turner.
It marked the second Oberon Cup win for the Turner-Morris trainer-driver combination - the duo also won in 2017 with Mojo Major.
“His form in New Zealand was second to none … but he was probably one of those horses that seem to get lost in the New Zealand system and he had a few little issues,” Morris explained.
“His owners decided to send him over here and they said they wanted to target these country cup type races.”
James Dean won his first six career starts in New Zealand, but then went over a year without saluting again. However, the son of Santanna Blue Chip had been handy touch since joining Turner’s team and was rated as a cup contender.
While Power Of Red made an excellent start from barrier four to cross and take the lead, Morris soon guided James Dean (barrier 11) into the death seat.
As the bell sounded James Dean was three-quarters of a length off the pace, but Hewitt caught the front runners napping as he made a bold move, rushing forward to snatch the lead with Lets Katchmeifucan.
It then turned into a battle between James Dean and Letskatchmeifucan. Hewitt’s chance led by a head into the final bend, but could not quite hold on.
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Third place, a further 7m back, was Hewitt’s other hopeful Royal Story ($10.20).
“He can do it ever sort of which-way, which is the good thing about this horse, it doesn’t matter how he has to do it,” Morris said.
“He’ll probably got to Orange now, on the grass. He only had the one start in New Zealand on the grass, but he won it in 1:55.”