Kiwi Chronicles

Class and courage

Class was apparent in the $500,000 Magic Millions Classic (1600m) and despite not being a black-type race, it was a treat to see La Crique (Vadamos) achieve her maiden win in Australia at her second attempt.

Expectations of La Crique were high when she lined up in the 2022 Empire Rose Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) at Flemington on Derby Day. Having scored an effortless all-the-way win in the Arrowfield Plate (Gr 1, 1600m) in her lead up start, the mare finished a game fourth.

James McDonald rode her that day and was aboard again for Saturday’s win. His comment on the Empire Rose run was that she ran a top race. Indeed she did. She was in front at the 200 metres and still held a narrow lead at the 100 metres and never lay down to the line.

That courage was on display at Eagle Farm too. La Crique looked flat soon after straightening but McDonald helped get her mind on the job and slowly but surely she gathered in the leaders inside the 100 metres. Over the last few strides class came to the fore and she went clear to score by more than a length.

Now a five-year-old, La Crique has not been over-raced. Saturday’s win, her eighth, was start number 20 and the dual Group 1 winner took her bank account to $1.15 million with the prospect of more as co-trainer Katrina Alexander expressed a wish to remain in Australia.

If McDonald’s comments are worth consideration, a start in the Tattersall’s Tiara (Gr 1, 1400m) is unlikely. He didn’t think the distance would suit La Crique. The 200 metres shorter Tiara might be a bit sharp now. There is nothing for her during the remainder of the Brisbane winter carnival so another Australian win will probably have to wait until the spring.

Two more
The day began well for the New Zealand breds when Princess Rhaenys (Iffraaj) put up a huge performance in the Mitty’s Benchmark 90 (1810m).

Stuck midfield but three wide from the end of the back straight to the top of the straight, she could have been forgiven for fading. Instead, she braved it out, maintained a strong run to catch the leader inside the 100 metres and was super tough to the line.

Saturday’s win was her fifth in 25 starts and among her nine placings are three at black type level including a second in the Pam O’Neill Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m) at Doomben just over a year ago. Prior to her being domiciled in Queensland Princess Rhaenys notched wins at Flemington and Sandown.

Princess Rhaenys is a sister to Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) winner Jon Snow (Iffraaj). He was noted for his courage too, finishing a solid third behind Gingernuts (Iffraaj) in the New Zealand Derby.

At four Jon Snow won a Moonee Valley Group 3 and ran third in the Caulfield Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m). At five he finished third behind Grunt (O’Reilly) in the Makybe Diva Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) which makes Princess Rhaenys a valuable mare.

Her great-granddam is triple Group 1 winner Solveig (Imposing), the winner of 14 races including the New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m). Solveig is from another outstanding mare, Soliloquy (Sobig), both bred by Richard Moore who has overseen a wondrous family.

The second New Zealander to score at Eagle Farm was Imperialist (Churchill), a Chris Waller trained two-year-old having his third start. Although Imperialist was conceived in Australia, he was foaled in New Zealand and sold through Gordon Cunningham’s Curraghmore Stud draft at the 2023 NZB Karaka Yearling Sale.

Guy Mulcaster found the colt for $170,000 and he has ‘Derby’ written all over him. In The Phoenix (Listed, 1500m) he had plenty to do in the straight and was bumped at the 250 metres but brushed that off with a strong, stayer’s-like finish. The Sydney spring middle races for three-year-olds, such as the Spring Champion Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) looks like a worthy target for this boy.

An August 17th foal, Imperialist is from a winning Fastnet Rock (Danehill) mare while his granddam, Global Dance is a Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer) half-sister to two Group 1 winners, namely Prix Saint-Alary (Gr 1, 2000m) winner Cerulean Sky (Darshaan) and Irish Oaks (Gr 1, 12f) winner Moonstone (Dalakhani).

Group 1 winner at two and a classic winner of The Two Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1m), Churchill has sired 25 stakes winners in three crops covering both hemispheres. He is making some noise.

War noise
Warmonger (War Decree) was the headline act last week but a week on the Inglewood Stud stallion War Decree (War Front) has sired two more metropolitan winners this past Saturday.

Luvnwar (War Decree) took just two starts for her new owner, Bob Peters, to recoup some of her purchase price when scoring the Mrs Mac’s 1400 metres at Belmont, Perth.

A $22,500 Book 2 buy from the 2022 NZB Karaka Yearling Sale by Riversley Park’s Sam Beatson, the filly had three starts in New Zealand for a win and a Group 3 third in the Barnswood Farm Stakes (1400m) last October. At Belmont she was one of four across the track at the 100 metres, put her head in front just short of the line and held on well for a handy win.

Luvnwar is a half-sister to Southland Guineas (Listed, 1600m) winner Chokito (Vespa) and is a granddaughter of Group 3 winner and Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) third Howmuchyacharging (Howbaddouwantit).

In Adelaide, Artillery (War Decree) broke his maiden at just his second start when taking out the Canadian Club Maiden (1250m). He took over before they straightened for the run home and fought off a strong challenge to win by a half length.

Artillery is bred on an Inglewood Stud cross being out of the Zacinto (Dansili) mare Over The Hill, herself a half-sister to Antonio Giuseppe (Shocking), a six-times winner who ran second in the AJC Metropolitan Handicap (Gr 1, 2400m).

Almanzor double
Flemington saw Cambridge Stud’s Almanzor (Wootton Bassett) sire a double with Rise At Dawn (Almanzor) in the Mary Longden Mile (1600m) and Virtuous Circle (Almanzor) returning to form in the Lesley Hewitt Trophy (2000m) after a 22 month drought, although he was a gallant second in the 2023 Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) in the meantime.

For Rise At Dawn the win looked comfortable when he streaked clear half way down the straight but just scraped home by a nose after a powerful finish from Craig (Territories).

Rise At Dawn is now four from seven and has two metropolitan wins having won at Moonee Valley in February. His speed may be due to his dam, the speedy Kay’s Awake (Towkay). She was a Listed winner of six races and recorded four Group 1 sprint placings: second and third in the Telegraph Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and second and third in the Waikato Draught Sprint (Gr 1, 1400m). Her dam, Wake Up Suzie (Hereward The Wake) was a Listed winner also.

Virtuous Circle looked well above average at three then lost form. In seven starts since the Australian Derby he showed nothing whatsoever but Saturday’s win could be the start of another good run of form.

Last at the top of the straight he maintained a solid run to form part of a wall of runners at the 100 metres but put his head in front from the 50 metres mark and his third win. The bulk of his earnings were due to the Derby second but he has banked $776,200, more than double his purchase price of $360,000 out of the Wentwood Grange draft at the 2021 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale.

Talking of doubles….
Ruakaka’s last two races were won by a brother and sister. Both trained by Mark Brosnan at Matamata, the full siblings were bred by Messrs Macrae and McKeagg. Race eight winner Sterling Express (Shamexpress) is raced by his breeders while race nine winner Grace ‘N’ Glory (Shamexpress) races solely in Macrae’s name.

Sterling Express, a three-year-old gelding, was having his sixth start and second win. His maiden win took place at Matamata last December. At Ruakaka he was last into the straight then threaded between runners in good style for the win.

Big sister, four-year-old mare Grace ‘N’ Glory, was also last into the straight but cut the corner before putting in a strong run along the fence for her third win in 19 starts.

Grace ‘N’ Glory took seven starts to break her maiden and a further ten starts to add to her tally at her home track of Matamata in February. That was two starts back. One can only imagine the breeders’ delight in witnessing back-to-back winners on the same card.

Their dam, On Parole (Keeper) won six without achieving black type and at stud has produced two to race for two winners, her first two foals. Her third foal is a rising two-year-old colt by Circus Maximus (Galileo).

On Parole was purchased out of the Grangewilliam Stud draft at the 2012 NZB Festival Yearling Sale for $16,000. Her dam is Jennibegood (Jahafil), winner of the Whyte Handicap (Listed, 1600m) and four further races.

Jennibegood’s dam, Tier Dance (Danzatore) was a winner. Her granddam, Sentier (Sovereign Edition) won twice in Brisbane and her great-granddam was Ruelle (Summertime), one of the better three-year-olds of her crop and winner of the Desert Gold Stakes (Gr 2, 1m).

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