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Orange wins fifth Sapling Stakes

NZ HARNESS NEWS

The old firm of the All Stars and Blair Orange got back together in Sunday’s Ashburton Sapling Stakes and it was as though they’d never been apart.

In a bit of a flashback to years gone by, Orange and the powerhouse stable combined for the third time to win the time-honoured event with debutant War Dan Delight, who strode past a brave Heisenberg inside the final 100 metres to win.

Orange believed it was the first time he’d slipped into the all-too-familiar colours since he piloted Titan Banner in the New Zealand Trotting Cup in 2016, where they’d finished third.

“I think that might be the last time I had a drive for them,” Orange said.

“It’s always nice to put them back on and even better when you manage to get a win in them too.”

The Sapling Stakes has been a good one for New Zealand’s leading reinsman with yesterday’s win his fifth victory.

It makes him the most successful driver in the race’s long and storied history.

He won his first in 2003 with Lennon and subsequent wins since then have come from Ohoka Arizona (2007), Mapua Legend (2009) and Isaiah (2013).

War Dan Delight joins a long list of elite former winners of the race with former New Zealand Trotting Cup winners and former Derby winners littered among the roll of honour.

A Bettor’s Delight colt from Miss Elsie, War Dan Delight is a full-brother to the talented Raukapuka Ruler, so lacks for nothing in the breeding department.

“He’s a little professional,” Orange said.

“When I asked him to knuckle down and get the job done halfway down the straight he really found for me.

“That’s usually a good sign.”

The overall time for the one mile was 1:58.1, which was a far cry from the race record of 1:53.8 set by Follow The Stars, but horses had to contend with a strong headwind down the back straight.

That did, however, allow for a blistering closing 400 metres of 25.08.

War Dan Delight was purchased for $90,000 at last year’s Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch by big-spending Australian owner Danny Zavitsanos, who hails from Geelong.

Heisenberg will have lost no admirers with his effort for second after leading into the strong wind for John Dunn while Another Masterpiece stuck on gamely after sitting parked.

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