By Alastair Bull
Vinny Colgan bid his homeland farewell in style with a record- breaking fifth New Zealand Derby aboard favourite Habibi.
Colgan guided Habibi from a potentially tricky position four back on the rails to beat fellow filly Fix, with the front-running Castlzeberg sticking on well for third.
It is his fifth New Zealand Derby, but it could be his last as he is taking up a job riding for Tony McEvoy in Adelaide in the beginning of April.
"I've been sitting on four for a long time. To get that fifth is incredible - I may never get another one," he said.
"It's a dream come true. For some reason I don't get nervy but I really did today, but to pull it off was unbelievable."
Colgan has now ridden more New Zealand Derby winners since it shifted to Ellerslie in the early 1970s than anyone else, winning aboard Roysyn, Zonda, Hades and Redoute's Dancer before Saturday.
But at 37 he's keen on a new challenge and happily took up an offer from McEvoy earlier this year.
"If he wasn't a big trainer I probably might not have, but he's top gun over there, he's the big dog, he's got plenty of horses, so why not. I'm getting no younger."
It was the first Derby for Northland trainers Donna and Dean Logan, who were nosed out of the Derby in 1998 when El Duce was just beaten by So Casual.
"This race is one of the best to win. The Derby is the epitome of racing; young horses, three-year-olds, and we came very close a few years back," Dean Logan said.
It was Habibi's sixth win in seven starts and her breeder and part-owner Heather Crofskey said it was "like being on top of Everest".
"I'm really proud to be part of this wonderful industry, and to think that little people like us can have a dream, set out for it, and achieve it."
Fix fought bravely for second after being caught three-wide in the first 800m, while Castlzeberg, bought this week by OTI Racing in Australia, fought bravely after setting a strong pace.