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Trekking to Trentham paid off for Riverton trainers Kelvin and Aimee Tyler when Flying Sardine won the Whyte Handicap on Saturday.
The 6yr-old mudlark relished heavy track conditions to win the 1600m feature by more than three lengths for rider Tanya Jonker.
Flying Sardine had not had the chance to race on a heavy track since her good fourth behind Who Dares Wins in the listed Easter Cup at Riccarton in April.
A rails-hugging ride from Jonker helped the mare make full use of her opportunity on testing ground.
"The main reason we went up was for the heavy track,'' Kelvin Tyler said.
"There was not much point staying home and running on the concrete tracks down here, so we thought we would go and give it a crack.
"It was quite exciting, really.''
Jonker saved ground on Flying Sardine before peeling her off the rail for her finish in the straight.
The Riverton mare wore down runner-up Mauna Kea to win by three and a-quarter lengths.
As a result, Flying Sardine moved to fourth-equal favourite for next month's group 3 Winter Cup at Riccarton.
Tyler said his mare would go straight into the $100,000 feature and would not have another start prior.
The Tylers experienced the ups and downs of racing as the stable's southern cups queen, Lil Miss Swiss, failed in the other feature on the flat, the Parliamentary Handicap.
She was unsuited by the puggy and holding nature of the track.
"That was a bit disappointing, because she was the main horse we took up there,'' Tyler said.
"She probably needed a looser track.
"There was 30mm of rain [yesterday morning], which was a shame because it was a day late for her.''
The Tyler stable also produced Adequacy for a creditable fifth behind No Tip in the Wellington Hurdles.
Adequacy was outpaced in walk-and-sprint affair, set up by a pedestrian first lap of the 3400m feature.
The race pace was not a problem for the Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal-trained No Tip.
The 7yr-old was back in the field with Adequecy at the 800m, about 10 lengths off the leaders.
Rider Aaron Kuru weaved a path through the pack from before the home turn and No Tip unwound strongly to win.