The one-mile event was the last group I for the 3 year-olds in New Zealand for the season.
But only after Cropp lifted him over the line.
"This is a beautiful feeling," Cropp said. "He showed so much heart considering he was there to be beaten at the furlong. I am thrilled to bits."
And so she should be. She had made an early option to press forward after The Pooka began like a shot from a rifle. Steadying in second spot until the field swept around the home turn with just over two furlongs to go, Cropp moved him up and he was left alone in front—a sitting duck for the two favorites Alamosa and Rios to attack.
And Alamosa looked likely.
He had been sitting back, smoking his pipe, traveling like a superstar until straightening, where he dashed through a yawning hole and bounded out after Cropp and The Pooka. With every stride down the running he looked likely to catch them. Ears back, he and Australian rider Gavin McKeon tried their utmost. In the end he failed by a head. It was a great duel.
Rios, the talented son of Hussonet, met with a checkered run in the home straight but got home gamely to grab third in the $325,000 affair.
The winner is trained by legendary New Zealand trainer John Wheeler.
Cropp celebrated a great day as she also won the 2-year-old stakes race on the emerging star San Bernadino for Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) winning trainer Graeme Rogerson.
In Australia, Rogerson was a winner too when the Lloyd Willams-owned Zipping (by Danehill), was way to classy for his rivals in the Sandown Classic over a mile and a half.
The $401,000 group II event was a working gallop for the horse who in his last start grabbed fourth in the Melbourne Cup.
Stephen Arnold rode him to perfection at Victoria's Sandown track and he won by more than two lengths from Jukebox Johnny and Baughurst.
The win took Zipping's career earnings to $1.3 million.
Rogerson, who has been the listed trainer of Williams' horses for the past seven years, officially announced he no longer wanted to continue in that role. Everyone knows that Williams and his stable foreman, John Sadler, have been training the Williams Racing team for several years now.