By HRNZ

Family Spirit won his first race of the season on Sunday in the Hewes Scrapmetal Stratford Cup. Starting off the 20 metre handicap, the Todd Mitchell-trained six-year-old overcame the odds to earn maximum points in the Country Cup series. 

Family Spirit stepped away nicely in the hands of Philip Butcher, who elected to sit him near the back of the field as Matai Man led the way. Before long His Honour made a move from the back, with Family Spirit following three-wide. By the 1500 metre mark, Butcher had taken up the lead. From here the race belonged to Family Spirit. 

Turning for home, Family Spirit gained a comfortable lead over the field with no runners able to close in on him. Butcher guided the gelding, by Il Vicolo, to a one-and-a-quarter length win over President Tomado with a neck back to Matai Man. 

This was Family Spirit’s sixth lifetime win from his 37 starts. Mitchell took over the role as trainer in January from Sue Martin. The ten points earned from Sunday’s win place Family Spirit in fifth position in the North Island Country Cup series. Six races remain before the final on the 23rd of April in Auckland