High hopes and headaches pay off in Otaki WFA Classic

By Richard Edmunds

2 Mar 2022

High hopes and headaches pay off in Otaki WFA ClassicA deserved Group One victory for Mascarpone and a notable first for apprentice jockey Wiremu Pinn in

“He’s been a hard horse to train at times – he has a mind of his own – but he’s getting better with age.”
After three seasons of high hopes and headaches, Mascarpone gave Team Rogerson the best possible payback in Saturday’s Gr. 1 WFA Classic at Otaki.
The chestnut gelding became the Rogersons’ first Group One winner since Soriano’s Zabeel Classic-Herbie Dyke Stakes double in 2014-15, and his dominant front-running performance vindicated Graeme Rogerson’s long-held belief that the problem child was always destined for the highest level.
“It was an outstanding win at Otaki on Saturday – we’re very happy,” the Hall of Fame trainer told RaceForm on Monday. “He’s a horse I’ve rated very highly all the way through, right back to when I bought him at Karaka as a yearling. He was always such a lovely, big, strong horse.
“He’s been a hard horse to train at times – he has a mind of his own – but he’s getting better with age. Michelle Northcott and all the staff have done a wonderful job with him, and Saturday’s win was a great reward for that.”
Bought by Rogerson Bloodstock for $160,000 from Westbury Stud’s draft at Karaka in 2018, Mascarpone has now won eight of his 26 starts and more than $427,000 in prize-money. Saturday’s Group One breakthrough came after finishing fourth and third behind Avantage in last year’s Telegraph and BCD Group Sprint, and third to Levante in the same two races this year.
Most of Mascarpone’s early successes came over 1200 and 1400 metres, and before Saturday he had been unplaced in his only two starts over the metric mile. He finished fifth in the Gr. 1 Levin Classic in January of 2020, five and a half lengths from the winner Travelling Light, then ran eighth in Probabeel’s Karaka Million 3YO Classic later that month.
But now that the big five-year-old has passed that test, Rogerson believes even longer distances could be well within reach for the son of Shooting To Win.
“I think you’ll see a very good horse once he gets up over 2000 metres,” he said. “He’s a very different horse now to what he was as a three-year-old – he’s so much stronger. I’m looking forward to getting him up over that sort of trip.
“We have a couple of different options to work through with the owners, and we’ll do that over the course of this week.
“I couldn’t believe how well he came through the race on Saturday. He got home from Otaki at quarter to 11 that night, and by 6 o’clock the next morning, he’d eaten all of his dinner. That’s amazing for a horse that’s travelled that far.
“He worked and swam this morning and is looking great. I’m very happy with him, and I think there’s much more still to come.”
The other big success story out of Saturday’s weight-for-age feature was Mascarpone’s jockey Wiremu Pinn. It was the first Group One win for the 23-year-old apprentice, who has been through some turbulent times through his four-year riding career but has undeniable talent in the saddle. He is now the winner of 95 races from 816 rides.
“He was the right person in the right place at the right time,” Rogerson said. “I think he’s a real up-and-comer, and I’m proud of some of the success I’ve been able to provide to young apprentices in the past.
“I gave a young Opie Bosson an early Group One win in the VRC Oaks on Grand Archway, and Scarlett Lady in Queensland was one of the first for James McDonald. Then there was Rory Hutchings, who got those wins on Soriano.
“I think this boy has immense talent, and I have no doubt that he can go on to great things as long as he keeps his feet on the ground and keeps listening.
“He did that on Saturday. We told him that he could take a trail if someone else wanted to lead, but otherwise we wanted him to get the horse in a nice rhythm in front. We asked him to angle out into the better ground in the straight, and hopefully the horse would be too good for them.
“He couldn’t have followed those instructions much better, and the horse was so strong through the line. It was very exciting.”