Meanwhile in … New Zealand: cricket legend Brendon McCullum hits rivals for six as an owner

Horse Racing Brendon McCullum Tabata
Brendon McCullum (second left) and the Tabata team after victory at Tauherenikau. Photo: Race Images – Peter Rubery

New Zealand: Former New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum enjoyed his day out at Tauherenikau – that’s easy for you to say – racecourse on Monday [Feb 8] when he welcomed a Listed winner in progressive mare Tabata.

The Black Caps legend, who hit the fastest Test match century of all-time in a 54-ball onslaught against Australia in 2016, has been increasingly involved in horse racing since his retirement from playing cricket in August 2019.

More home time means more horse racing for cricket’s big hitter Brendon McCullum

Now combining the roles of TV commentator and coach for the Knight Riders Twenty20 franchises and one of the most destructive batsmen in the history of the sport, McCullum and his wife Ellissa have three broodmares at their property in Matamata.

They were both on course on Monday at Tauherenikau, about 50 miles northeast of capital city Wellington, to witness McCullum’s success as an owner as Tabata carried his magenta and cyan silks to a last-gasp victory in the Wairarapa Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes over a mile.

Speaking to NZ Racing Desk, trainer Stephen Marsh said: “She has got a very good finish on her and when she started to pick up halfway down the straight, I started to think we might snatch third but her last 50 metres was just phenomenal.”

A step up to Group company now beckons for the four-year-old daughter of champion sire Savabeel, who was purchased by McCullum under his Vermair Bloodstock banner and Hughes Bloodstock for $100,000 from the Waikato Stud draft at the 2018 Book 1 sale at Karaka.

Tabata’s victory also completed a four-timer for runaway jockeys’ premiership leader Danielle Johnson, who ended Monday’s card with 116 victories for 2020-21. Beaten into second in all four races was defending champ Lisa Allpress, who also rode a double at the meeting.

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