Racing: Smiling Star shows talent to claim feature

Smiling Star paces clear to win the Cromwell Cup yesterday. Photo by Matt Smith.
Smiling Star paces clear to win the Cromwell Cup yesterday. Photo by Matt Smith.
There were two reasons to smile for the connections of Cromwell Cup winner Smiling Star yesterday.

The 4yr-old Grinfromeartoear gelding was a comfortable winner in yesterday's $14,999 feature, part of the Southern Country Cups series.

Several of the members of the Forever Smiling Syndicate, which owns Smiling Star, are also part of the Arma Legend syndicate which won the preceding race.

Phil Gourdie manages both syndicates and was on-course along with wife Maria and several other syndicate members. Most of the Forever Smiling syndicate are based in Christchurch while Glen and Glenys Elley run the Criterion Hotel in Westport.

The talent has always been there with Smiling Star, who won his first three races before placing third in the 2010 Sires Stakes final, and Gourdie was full of praise for trainer-driver Robbie Holmes and his wife, Carla Robertson-Holmes.

''He's been well placed in his races by Robbie and Carla,'' Gourdie said.

''They've done a tremendous job with this horse and they looked after him when he faltered at the end of his 3yr-old season.

Smiling Star started off a 10m handicap and was sent forward with a lap to go, grabbing the lead 1400m from home.

''This was the first time to have a go in front today and he's done it and done it pretty well - he didn't knock off.''

Smiling Star has earned his chance at the group 2 Pelorus Classic in Blenheim next Sunday.

''He'll deserve a break after that.''

Arma Legend was kept back in the running line in his 3yr-old feature before Holmes peeled him out to win by three-quarters of a length over Moonlight Gambler and Rakabolt.

The Mach Three gelding was purchased out of Michael House's stables after one start and immediately placed third in the 2yr-old yearling sales consolation in May behind Classiesistar who won the 3yr-old sales race at Alexandra Park last week.