Racing News

Pennyweka lands special Oaks victory for Wallace

Members of the Galloping Wekas Jazweka Syndicate threatened to tear down the Trentham grandstand after they witnessed their pride and joy Pennyweka (3 f Satono Aladdin – Threepence by Pentire) stride clear in the final stages of the New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m).

More than 70 people associated with the three-year-old daughter of Satono Aladdin (Deep Impact) let out a united roar as rider Ryan Elliot found clear galloping room shortly after straightening, with Pennyweka proving much the best stayer as she dashed to a three-length victory.

Included in the ownership structure are Wairarapa brothers Jim and Les Wallace, who bred the filly, and their wives Mary and Janine – and about 70 other smaller syndicate members.

Jim Wallace, who trains the filly, had been confident the stars had aligned for his charge after the Wallace family had assembled from all corners of the globe as part of a huge celebration of the life of Madeleine Wallace, the late wife of Jim and Mary’s son David, at Ardsley Stud on Friday, only a day after Jim and Les’ mother Margaret passed away.

“That is just really special as it has been a very rough week,” Jim Wallace said. “For this to happen is right up there.

“There’s a few of them here today [in the syndicate] and about 25 of my own family as well, the first time we have all been together in years.

“There are four teenage girls here from America who have never been on a racetrack before, having just a wonderful day and that is what racing is all about,” Wallace said referring to his US-based granddaughters.

“I’ve virtually retired from training but this filly has rekindled the interest and it is great to win a Group 1 after having my mother die and my daughter-in-law pass away three weeks ago, so this is a great fillip for the whole family.”

Wallace admitted he had some doubts during the early running as the filly was a shade tardy from the gates and was shuffled back to a less than ideal position. 

“She paraded well before the race but early on I was a bit worried as I thought Ryan was in a bad spot, but when he got the split I thought that is it as she quickened up like a good horse should,” Wallace said.

“I was starting to feel pretty good at the 300 metres and I’m sure the celebrations are going to go on for a while.

“I’d like to put her in the paddock now as I’m old school and she can do some maturing as I’d like to give her every opportunity to fulfil her potential.”

Elliot, who has now taken out a Group 1 event in three consecutive weeks and six for the season, was confident he had plenty of horse under him throughout the contest.

“It was a little rough early doors, as we were in a place we didn’t want to be in,” he said. “At the half mile I had to get out and Jim had her ready and in perfect form.

“She travelled strongly throughout and I just tried to weave my way through and when I got clear air she has really let down.

“It’s been a great season for me and I just hope it continues.”

Runner-up Mehzebeen (Almanzor) acquitted herself with merit as she charged home from last to claim second, while Ruakaka-trained runner Mischief Managed (Derryn) clung on to third ahead of Malfy Rosa (Burgundy).

The victory provided Rich Hill Stud shuttle stallion Satono Aladdin with his second individual Group 1 winner after his son Tokyo Tycoon took out the Sistema Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) at Pukekohe last weekend.

Pennyweka is out of a Pentire half-sister to Auckland Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winner Titch (Lord Ballina), bred and raced by Les and Jim’s father Jim Wallace snr and trained by Mary Wallace’s cousin Kevin Myers.

Pennyweka has won two of her nine starts and over $330,000 in prize-money.

Te Akau celebrate dominant Levin Classic win

The decision to move the Levin Classic (Gr 1, 1600m) to March has worked wonders for Te Akau Racing, who dominated the race for the second year in a row at Trentham on Saturday – headed by an off-the-canvas victory by Romancing The Moon (3 f ex Underthemoonlight by El Hermano).

Staged in November until 2012, the Levin Classic then spent a decade in a midsummer slot as part of Trentham’s Wellington Cup Carnival in January. But it was shifted to March last year to provide a late-season target for three-year-olds who might be unsuited to the 2400 metres of the Derby or Oaks.

Last year’s inaugural running of the autumn Levin Classic was a tour de force by Te Akau Racing, with former trainer Jamie Richards saddling Imperatriz (I Am Invincinle), On The Bubbles (Brazen Beau), I Wish I Win (Savabeel) and Mohawk Brave (Extreme Choice) for a clean sweep of the first four placings.

Richards has since relocated to Hong Kong and relinquished his Te Akau role, which has been taken over by another multiple premiership winner in Mark Walker. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Walker’s two starters in this year’s Levin Classic were Romancing The Moon and Skew Wiff (Savabeel), and they stood tall among a well-credentialled field to finish first and second.

Romancing The Moon used up plenty of petrol in the early stages of the race, sliding forward to trail a strong pace set by the front-running Alfriston (Jukebox).

Left all alone out in front when Alfriston tired at the top of the straight, Romancing The Moon was soon tackled and clearly headed by her stablemate Skew Wiff.

Romancing The Moon looked beaten but somehow lifted again, clawing back level with Skew Wiff and then edging ahead through the final stages to score by a length and a half.

“This is a big thrill,” Te Akau’s racing manager Reece Trumper said. “The boss (David Ellis) has done it again, and I can’t thank him enough.

“David Ellis is one of the best buyers in the world, if not the best. He’s incredible. Full credit to him and Karyn for syndicating these horses and building up such a great client base.

“Without them, and the great job that Mark does training these fillies, we wouldn’t be here.”

Romancing The Moon is by Westbury Stud stallion El Roca (Fastnet Rock), who also sired the 2020 Levin Classic winner Travelling Light. The dam of this year’s Classic heroine is Underthemoonlight, who herself won the Foxbridge Plate (Gr 2, 1200m) and was placed at Group 1 level.

Bought by Ellis for $50,000 from Westbury Stud’s draft at Karaka 2021, Romancing The Moon has now had 11 starts for four wins, four placings and $327,695 in stakes.

Romancing The Moon proved herself in the spring with two stakes placings, including a second in the Soliloquy Stakes (Gr 3, 1400m) – splitting the star fillies Legarto (Proisir) and Prowess (Proisir).

She later ran fourth in the New Zealand 1,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) and second in the Dunedin Guineas (Listed, 1500m) before a confidence-boosting win by five and a half lengths in the NZB Insurance Stakes (Listed, 1400m) on March 4.

Having remained in the South Island after that last-start success at Wingatui, Romancing The Moon crossed the Cook Strait on a ferry only two days before Saturday’s Group 1 triumph.

“When the rain came yesterday, we became a bit more confident,” Trumper said. “We always knew that the El Rocas go well on rain-affected ground.

“We thought there wouldn’t be too much speed in the race and she’d be able to land thereabouts, which she did. But they did go quite hard, and I thought she might stop in the straight. Fair play to her, she really toughed it out and it was a big effort.

“Skew Wiff is a lovely animal too, and we’re very proud to be training horses like her for Waikato Stud. Going from 1200 metres to the mile might just have taken its toll on her late, but she’s certainly a class filly, and the Group One placing looks good on her pedigree.

“They’ve both had big preparations, so we’ll look after them now and I’m sure they’ll make lovely four-year-olds.”