The gain outweighed any pain for Hawkesbury trainer Nick Mitchell at Taree on Thursday. Mitchell, who has just completed his most successful season with 16 wins, initially intended to race Tuivasa without blinkers in the Maiden Handicap (1624m) and gained permission from stewards to do so.
But he had “second thoughts” and reversed the decision. It prompted a $100 fine from stewards, but Mitchell was happy to pay. Tuivasa ($6.50), with Chris O’Brien aboard and wearing blinkers, scored easily from Sebring Fling ($7.50) and $3 favorite Glitch.
The Stratum four-year-old was having his 11th start and had not been placed at his previous 10 outings. Previously with Bjorn Baker at Warwick Farm, Tuivasa entered Mitchell’s stable earlier this year and was having his sixth start for his new trainer.
“I tried Tuivasa over longer distances at his previous two starts, but he raced lethargically and didn’t finish his races off,” Mitchell said on his way home from Taree. “I was going to take the blinkers off to hopefully wake him up, but thought more about it this morning and changed my mind. Probably just as well I did.”
Mitchell wasn’t sure if Tuivasa had been named after the classy Samoan-born Kiwi rugby league player Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who captains the NZ Warriors. But at least he finally showed some of the acceleration for which his likely namesake is renowned.