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Promising southern galloper Mystic Park set himself up for a potentially lucrative payday on his home track at Riccarton in April when bolting home in the TAB Southern Alps Golden Ticket (1400m) qualifier at the venue on Saturday.
The victory makes him exempt from ballot for the rich $350,000 Southern Alps Challenge (1600m), a new innovation event from the TAB to be run at Riccarton on 13 April for horses that have their trainers operating a premises in the South Island from 1 August last year, have been stabled at that premises since 31 December and have run at least twice in the South Island since that date.
Mystic Park and trainers Michael and Matthew Pitman more than fulfil those criteria and will be looking forward to the new event with plenty of anticipation after the four-year-old delivered a four length victory under a hold by rider Tina Comignaghi.
Allowed to settle near the rear in the rating75 contest, Mystic Park relaxed nicely with Comignaghi sitting quietly before allowing him to sneak closer along the rail approaching the home turn.
Angled three off the fence into clear air at the 300m he burst away from his rivals before easing down to defeat Divine Sava and Seven Twenty in a slick 1.22.03 for the 1400m journey.
Michael Pitman has always believed the stable had a classy customer on their hands and the victory did nothing to dampen that opinion.
"I said to his owners that I thought he could be a genuine Group One horse before he even had his first start and he has done nothing to dissuade me since then," Pitman said.
"He has always shown us plenty and he has one of the greatest temperaments that I have ever seen.
"He is just so relaxed and as he is out of a Dubawi mare we don't have any fears for him stepping out further than he did today.
"Tina came back in and said he did it very easily and was just so chill all the way so we have a lot to look forward to."
Pitman can't wait for the Southern Alps challenge to roll around with plans to be made on how best to get him to the race where he now has a guaranteed start.
"He will probably have one more run before now and the big one in April so we will be working back from that date to see where best to place him," he said.
"When you know you are in a race like that it takes a lot of the pressure off and we think he is going to be a big chance as he has been looking for more ground and the mile should suit him perfectly.
"It is a real buzz for his owners and they have been very loyal to the stable so if we can reward them with a win it would be a great result for everyone."
Offered by Kilgravin Lodge during the 2021 Book 1 Sale at Karaka, Mystic Park was purchased by Pitman for $40,000 and has now taken his record to four wins from just eight career starts.
He is a son of Waikato Stud stallion Ocean Park and is out of the Dubawi mare Spirit Of Karlu who traces back to numerous Australian stakes performers including the Gr.1 Australia Stakes (1200m) winner Stella Cadente. News Desk