Favourite breaks down

Matamata Chronicle - - Motoring -

RAC­ING can be a cruel game, just ask Mata­mata trainer John Sar­gent. A year to the day af­ter an in­jury forced his classy staying mare Pass­chen­daele out of the $1 mil­lion Stella Ar­tois Auck­land Cup, an al­most ex­actly iden­ti­cal sce­nario has arisen again.

Last year, as pre-post favourite for the big staying race, Pass­chen­daele had to be with­drawn due to a hair­line frac­ture suf­fered to a hind can­non-bone in her fi­nal Mon­day morn­ing gal­lop.

Twelve months later and once again the pun­ters’ favourite on the TAB fixe­dodds mar­ket, Pass­chen­daele got through her fi­nal gal­lop on the Mata­mata course proper to the sat­is­fac­tion of her trainer and her work rider, sta­ble foreman Hay­den Allen. Shortly af­ter­wards, how­ever, their hopes of a sec­ond chance at the coun­try’s rich­est staying race were dashed when Pass­chen­daele showed signs of lame­ness on a fore­leg by the time she had re­turned to her sta­ble.

A sub­se­quent ve­teri­nary ex­am­i­na­tion con­firmed the worst fears, that she had suf­fered a se­ri­ous in­jury to a fet­lock and there would no pos­si­ble way of her mak­ing the line-up for the coun­try’s rich­est staying race, which is sched­uled for this af­ter­noon.

‘‘I can’t be­lieve it,’’ her un­der­stand­ably de­jected trainer said. ‘‘Ev­ery­thing had been fall­ing into place, her lead-up rac­ing told us she was back to her best and now this.

‘‘I feel so sorry for ev­ery­one, her own­ers, the ve­teri­nary staff who had done such a won­der­ful job with her orig­i­nal in­jury and of course my own staff and our jockey Mark du Plessis. There’s noth­ing you can do apart from just cop it and con­sole our­selves with the thought that at least she can be a brood mare.’’

Pass­chen­daele won the Waikato Times Gold Cup in her first open com­pany start in late 2009, her fifth win from a ca­reer that was to en­com­pass just 14 starts. In fact she never failed to earn a stakes, with her worst per­for­mance one fifth plac­ing in her re­main­ing nine race­day ap­pear­ances.

At her most re­cent start the light­lyframed mare had repli­cated last year’s lead-up form by fin­ish­ing third in the Darci Brahma In­ter­na­tional Stakes at Te Rapa on Fe­bru­ary 12. A fur­ther twist is that Pass­chen­daele’s dam Clas­sic Babe, the win­ner of six of her 24 starts, had also bro­ken down just days be­fore the 2002 Auck­land Cup.

There had orig­i­nally been no guar­an­tee that Pass­chen­daele would make it back to rac­ing from her first break­down and it was only ex­pert ve­teri­nary at­ten­tion that en­abled what was at the time a full re­cov­ery. An­other out­come of that na­ture is highly un­likely, leav­ing her con­nec­tions to won­der what might have been.

‘‘That’s the thing, now we’ll never know how good she was,’’ said John. ‘‘I know in my mind that she was right up there with the best stay­ers I’ve trained, a nat­u­ral. It’s just such a bloody shame that she never got the chance to prove it.’’

The Sar­gent sta­ble orig­i­nally had two lead­ing prospects for this year’s Auck­land Cup but the de­ci­sion was made last week to switch last start Darci Brahma In­ter­na­tional Stakes win­ner Red Ruler to the New Zealand Stakes on this Satur­day’s fi­nal day pro­gramme at Eller­slie.

Ad­di­tional hopes for an­other Group One win rest with last start Mata­mata win­ner Sav­abill and re­cent sta­ble re­cruit, the for­mer Vic­to­rian gal­loper Chateauneuf Du­pape, who will go headto-head in the Di­a­mond Stakes. This is the same race that an­other Sar­gent­trained two-year-old, Banchee, won last year.

That filly, who was scratched from last Satur­day’s New Zealand Derby when un­wel­come rain turned the Eller­slie track to heavy, now has an al­ter­na­tive mis­sion on the hori­zon. That is the A$600,000 Cool­more Clas­sic, for fil­lies and mares over 1500 me­tres at Rose­hill on Satur­day week, March 19. She may be joined in Syd­ney by Amaryl­lis, an­other mem­ber of Peter and Philip Vela’s ex­ten­sive rac­ing team who won the Gr 3 Dar­ley Plate at Eller­slie last Satur­day.

Amaryl­lis is one of the team pre­pared at Kara­piro by first sea­son train­ers Steven Ram­say and Ju­lia Ritchie and will be their first off­shore run­ner if plans come off to start her in the Gr 3 Birth­day Card Stakes at Rose­hill a week af­ter the Cool­more Clas­sic.

That beauty is in the eye of the be­holder has never rung more true for Hong Kong race­horse owner Si­mon Kwok.

The head of Asia’s gi­ant Sa Sa cos­metic com­pany in­cludes the word beauty in all horses that he and his wife Eleanor race in Hong Kong. The star of their team right now is for­mer Mata­mata gal­loper Beauty Flash, who com­pleted a hat-trick of Sha Tin Group One wins when he won the Queen’s Sil­ver Ju­bilee Cup on Sun­day.

Beauty Flash be­gan his ca­reer with lo­cal trainer Lance No­ble, who sent him to Hong Kong af­ter win­ning a qual­i­fy­ing race at Te Rapa in early 2009. The $65,000 Karaka year­ling proved well up to Hong Kong com­pany and was one of the favourites go­ing into the Hong Kong Derby last March.

Lance and his wife Leigh were treated to a Hong Kong hol­i­day to see their prote´ ge´ run in the big­gest race on the do­mes­tic Hong Kong calendar and while an ultimate re­sult wasn’t achieved, it was still a very worth­while ex­pe­ri­ence catch­ing up with var­i­ous Hong Kong clients.

The No­ble sta­ble has no short­age of horses with the Beauty pre­fix, with its cur­rent tally com­pris­ing Beauty Leap, Beauty Sparkle, Beauty Supremo, Beauty Hu­mour, Beauty Har­mony, Beauty So­lu­tion, Beauty Per­cep­tion, Beauty Look and Beauty Show.

‘‘We work through Clarence Tung, who man­ages all the Beauty horses at this end,’’ said Lance. ‘‘Like other New Zealand train­ers we do the early work for var­i­ous Hong Kong in­vestors and all up they pro­vide about 30 per cent of our busi­ness. It’s great to see a horse like Beauty Flash go up to Hong Kong and make his mark. It’s what we all hope to do, that we’ve done the job and that they go on and prove them­selves.’’

Beauty Flash (chest­nut, cen­tre) com­pletes a fea­ture race hat-trick in the Queen’s Sil­ver Ju­bilee Cup in Hong Kong on Sun­day.

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