When passed in equals a good result
Sometimes a poor result can turn out to be just the opposite. Certainly, that is the case regarding Repo Bay (Shocking) who was offered for sale in May of 2019 carrying yesterday’s Railway (Gr 1, 1200m) victor, Waitak (Proisir).
The mare’s vendor is likely relieved that Repo Bay failed to reach her reserve and was passed in at $20,000. If ever a breeder would be happy with such a no sale it would be Colin Devine after Waitak produced a fantastic last 200 metres sprint to overwhelm the Railway field, racing well clear after sitting last as close as 300 metres from the finish.
The Proisir (Choisir) four-year-old was prominent among last season’s three-year-olds, taking out the Trevor & Corallie Eagle Memorial Stakes (Listed, 1500m) at Pukekohe and placed second in the Auckland Guineas (Gr 2, 1400) and the Avondale Guineas (Gr 2, 2100). The connections twice tried him at the 2400-metre Derby distance but did a reset after an easy open sprint win fresh up at Te Rapa early last month.
The Railway sprint winner may have found his new niche and judging from his super turn of foot will no doubt be kept to the sprint distances. Already a Listed winner over 1500 metres, next month’s BCD Sprint (Gr 1, 1400m) would be well within his scope. In 18 starts he has recorded four wins (two stakes) and six placings (three stakes) and becomes the sixth individual Group 1 winner for his sire.
Waitak is the first foal of his dam, herself from a half-sister to two stakes winners. Waitak’s fourth dam is the Australian Champion Two-Year-old Desirable (Without Fear), a dual Group 1 winning two-year-old who also scored Flemington’s Newmarket Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m).
Pre Christmas vs post Christmas
As experienced horse people know, there is no such thing as a certainty and pre-Christmas form is no guarantee of post Christmas success, as the Eclipse Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) proved.
The race looked like a match race between Move To Strike (I Am Invincible) and Velocious (Written Tycoon), but they had to bow to a very good effort from Bellatrix Star (Star Witness) who gave the two favourites a considerable start at the top of the straight.
Last starting the first corner and last into the straight, Bellatrix Star pulled wide before the 300 metres, cruised alongside the leaders at the 200 metres then determinedly outgunned her rivals, the first three eight lengths clear of rest.
The filly was having her fourth start, beginning with a win on debut at Wanganui in early September. An eight week break saw her run third to Velocious at Te Rapa then second, to the same runner who was impressive in the Listed Counties Challenge Stakes (1100m).
As a graduate of last year’s NZB Karaka Yearling Sale (Book 1), Bellatrix Star jumps to the head of the queue for the Karaka Million 2YO (Listed, 1200m) at the end of the month. She has the form on the board and a couple of good scalps so must be a strong contender.
Te Akau’s David Ellis secured the filly from the Phoenix Park draft on behalf of John Galvin’s Fortuna Syndicate, outlaying what now looks like a reasonable $80,000 for the daughter of Star Witness (Starcraft). Her granddam is the Group 1 winner The Party Stand (Thorn Park) whose half-sister Raadisi is the dam of triple Group 1 winner Callsign Mav (Atlante).
Warm and fuzzy
The re-named Royal Stakes (Gr 2, 2050m), for the first time raced as the Sir Patrick Hogan Stakes, resulted in a warm and fuzzy result for the new owners of Sir Patrick’s Cambridge Stud.
Prior to the event, Brendan and Jo Lindsay expressed a wish to land this inaugural running and their wish was granted when About TIme (American Pharoah), a filly they bred, broke through for her maiden stakes success.
A maiden winner at Pukekohe on Melbourne Cup day, she was backing up from a fair sixth on Boxing Day in the Eight Carat Classic (Gr 2, 1600m). The extra distance worked in her favour and she stayed the 2050m quite convincingly, albeit in a disappointingly small field that was not exactly Group 2 standard.
Appropriately, About Time’s dam, Romantic Time (Fastnet Rock), was bred by Sir Patrick and Justine Lady Hogan and had previously foaled Young Werther (Tavistock), a big-earning five-times Group 1 placed performer. Romantic Time, a half-sister to Group 2-winning juvenile Amelia’s Dream (Redoute’s Choice), is a daughter of the good Brisbane two-year-old Shalt Not (St Covet).
Rich in quality
Yesterday’s feature mile, the Rich Hill Mile (Gr 2, 1600m), brought up win number eight in just 16 starts for quality gelding mare Habana (Zoustar).
He also brought up Warren Kennedy’s seventh winner on the ten-race card, including four of the five feature races.
Habana looked a forlorn chance after sprinting hard from the 400 metres and appeared to plateau but over the last 100 metres found a second wind, lunged at the line and got up to win by a short head. The Rich Hill Mile is his second stakes win. His first was the Fulton Family Mile (Listed, 1600m) on Pukekohe’s Melbourne Cup day.
Habana is from a Mossman (Success Express) half-sister to former Waikato Stud sire Fast ‘N’ Famous (Redoute’s Choice), a Flemington Group 3 winner who also ran second in Sydney’s Galaxy Handicap (Gr 1, 1100m).
His grandam is the dual Listed winner Zalinda (Zabeel) and his third dam is the Railway Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Alynda (Nassau).
Sprint and stay
While not the strongest Group 3 race, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Gr 3, 2400m) threw up an interesting result as the winner is by Sweynesse (Lonhro), better known as the sire of world-class Hong Kong sprinter, Lucky Sweynesse.
Trust In You (Sweynesse) was Boxing Day’s Dunstan Feeds Championship winner, scoring over the exact same course and distance and continued that form with a stylish win in yesterday’s stayers’ feature. He emerged from the pack half way down the straight and finished strongly, just as he did on Boxing Day.
Sweynesse was successful at 1800 metres and prior to Trust In You’s 2400 metres wins had sired two stakes-winning fillies who were successful at 2000 metres. Trust In You is the first stakes winner from his Listed sprint–winning dam, Shinko Bay (Shinko King), adding more intrigue to Trust In You’s bloodlines.
Perhaps he will emulate close relation, 2021 Auckland Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winner, Ocean Billy (Ocean Park)? Trust in You’s granddam and Ocean Billy’s grandam are half-sisters.
Boxing Day wrap-up
Boxing Day belonged to two granddaughters of High Chaparral (Sadler’s Wells), namely Campionessa (Contributer) and Molly Bloom (Ace High).
There was a lot to like about about Campionessa’s graduation to Group 1 status, not only that she was overdue, but also the way she kept finding the line after a buffeting duel about 300 metres from the line, the Zabeel Classic (Gr 1, 2050m) her maiden Group 1 and tenth win in 27 starts.
When she did find clear running the challenge on her outer from No Compromise (Pins) could have undone her. Instead, she rallied well and put the race to bed quite convincingly.
This season, a consecutive Group-race treble puts her in Horse of the Year territory but where to from here?
Now a six-year-old, Campionessa was given her opportunity in Melbourne last autumn, finishing a fair sixth in the Australian Cup (Gr 1, 2000m).
Does the stable remain at home and keep topping up the account, or, looking longer term, do they add to her value with Group 1 form in Australia?
One possibility is a return to Melbourne as the stable is further on with their Cranbourne operation. Another might be winter in Brisbane and knock out some good form in front of Australian eyes immediately before the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.
Commercial Te Akau are not breeders. They’re racers then sellers, a pattern they have carried out with great success.
Eight Carat Molly
Molly Bloom’s New Zealand 1,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) in mid-November was the talk of the industry. Her quickening from the 200 metres then powering home was the feature of the race. Her future looked very promising but, as always, you are only as good as your last race and the filly resumed at Pukekohe in the Eight Carat Classic (Gr 2, 1600m).
The field was not as strong but offset against that was her lack of recent racing and she gave them a decent start from the 800 metres although the field compacted from that point. Into the straight she moved out but at the 300 metres had work to do.
As she showed in the Guineas, she accelerated when asked from the 200 metre-mark, she and Mary Shan (Almanzor) pulling away from the rest. Like the good ones, she lowered her head and got the better of a fighting Mary Shan near the line.
Rich Hill Stud’s John Thompson commented: “If she can stay it’s hard to see her being beaten with her turn of foot. Her pedigree suggests she will.”
Thompson’s observations are on the money. Molly Bloom’s dam won at 2000 metres and her dam’s half-sister, Decorah (Pins), won up to 2400 metres, courtesy of her City of Auckland Cup (Gr 3, 2400m) win. Molly Bloom’s granddam, Listed placed Nordic Dancer (Generous), scored up to 2400 metres as well.
With her ability to quicken when needed, the Levin Classic (Gr 1, 1600m) might be next, a perfect excuse to have a look at Trentham in preparation for the New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) in March.
Kiwi Chronicles from December 19 wrote: “On the Te Rapa undercard we witnessed an impressive performance from Pendragon (U S Navy Flag) who took down a couple of smart ones in Quintessa (Shamus Award) and Tokyo Tycoon (Satono Aladdin) in the Wentwood Grange 3YO 1200”.
Fast forward to the Auckland Guineas (Gr 2, 1400m) and Pendragon did it again, this time defeating a much fitter Quintessa.
There were few excuses at Te Rapa and the same could be said at Pukekohe where the gelding did the donkey work yet fought off the filly for a handy win, his third in succession and first at black-type level.
Although he veered out under pressure he stuck to his guns. The only question remaining is whether he can take his form beyond 1400 metres. His sire, U S Navy Flag (War Front) was limited to seven furlongs but Pendragon’s dam is by the English Derby (Gr 1, 1m 4f) winner Pour Moi (Montjeu) and his granddam was a Listed winner at Deauville over 3000 metres.