Australia's final group I race of 2013 fell to Ihtsahymn, who held off fast-finishing favorite Luckygray by a neck in the Tabtouch Kingston Town Classic Dec. 7 at Ascot Racecourse in Perth.
Two-time race winner Playing God
took charge halfway through the 1,800-meter (about 1 1/8-mile) event, closely pursed by his multiple group-winning full brother God Has Spoken
, and Ihtsahymn.
Ihtsahymn pulled clear in the final 200 meters appearing set for an easy win, but 3-1 favorite Luckygray flashed up on his outside, gaining with every stride but just failing to catch the winner by a narrow margin.
Rohan finished third and Playing Gold was fourth.
Ihtsahymn, the 4-1 second favorite, finished the race in 1:49.95 on a track rated as good.
Winning jockey Steven Parnham guided Playing God to victories in the 2010 and 2011 editions of the Kingston Town Classic for his trainer-owner father Neville Parnham. But he opted to ride up-and-coming Ihtsahym, the only 3-year-old in the 11-horse field for the weight-for-age contest.
"It was an extremely tough decision and in the end I went for youth," the younger Parnham told Australia's Associated Press about the son of Ihtiram, who shouldered 52 kilograms, getting a break in the weights from five to seven kilograms. The gelding entered off a victory in the West Australia Guineas (Aus-II) Nov. 23 at Ascot and made his group I debut in the Kingston Town Classic. The victory improved his career record to five wins from nine starts.
Trained by Fred Kersley, Ihtsahymn races for a syndicate that includes breeder Oakland Park Stud, which bred him out of the stakes-winning Umatilla mare Umatune. He is a half brother to multiple group III winner Jestatune.
Ihtsahym is the second group I winner for his sire, Ihtiram, a 21-year-old son of Royal Academy. His best known offspring is five-time group I winner and Australian Horse of the Year Miss Andretti. Ihtiram is standing the Southern Hemisphere season at Jurien Bay, North Perth.
Also in the Southern Hemisphere Dec. 7, jockey Danielle Johnson enjoyed her first victory at the top level aboard unlikely winner Shuka
in the Captain Cook Stakes (NZ-I) at Trentham.
The eighth favorite in the 10-horse field, Shuka flew down on the outside to edge runner-up Viadana
by a head in a blanket finish, with Brave Centaur
a neck back in third and a head to the better of fourth-place finisher Survived
Final Touch, last year's winner and the favorite in this year's edition, raced in midfield early, then gradually lost ground before finishing last, sparking fears she may have been injured.
Shuka, a 5-year-old Bachelor Duke gelding out of the Cape Cross mare Alabama Rose, was timed in 1:35.42 for the 1,600 meters (about one mile).
Shuka is trained by Peter and Dawn Williams for owner Eric Parr.
The win marked Shuka's third in a group stakes and first in a group I event. He captured the 2011 Westbury Stud Wakefield Challenge Stakes (NZ-II) and 2013 Coca-Cola Canterbury Gold Cup (NZ-III) in April. Rebounding from a last-out fourth to Survived in the Stella Artois Tauranga Stakes (NZ-III) Nov. 16, he improved his lifetime record to seven wins, eight seconds, and two thirds from 28 starts.