Two-length win with rider Vinnie Colgan
Amidweek weather watch leading to a change in plans produced a big result when Art Beat led home a Matamata trifecta in the Lion Red Plate at Rotorua on Saturday.
The weight-for-age feature didn’t figure in the plans of trainers Wayne and Vanessa Hillis after returning home the previous weekend from Hawera, where Art Beat had finished midfield in the Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes. But a forecast for a wet week got them thinking and by Tuesday morning, when their mare seemed none the worse for her trip and race, the decision was made to enter for Rotorua.
Fitness levels were no concern for the drop back from 1400 to 1200 metres and in the days leading up to Rotorua all Art Beat required was low-level maintenance training. The forecast rang true, leading to a track rated slow by race morning and further rain through the day guaranteed that conditions would be to Art Beat’s liking.
With regular rider Leith Innes suspended, riding duties went to in-form Vinnie Colgan and the upshot was that the neatly-built chestnut was able to easily account for her Lion Red Plate rivals. In his first raceday ride on Art Beat, Vinnie let her find her feet in the early running and then sent her forward to loom up wide before running clear for a twolength win over Andrew Scotttrained filly Ready Steady and the Moroney-Clarken rep Shahbab.
That was Art Beat’s second win at Listed stakes level on top of her Tauranga Classic success in June. Between times she had won at Ellerslie in late September and all up she now has a record of eight wins and more than $130,000 in stakes from 20 starts. She may be nothing special to look at but there’s no denying the job she has done for her trainers and ownerbreeders Jim Marks and Garry and Shirley Bluett.
‘‘She nearly always gives her best and even though this race was a late add-on, the sort of horse she is we knew she would give it her best shot again,’’ Wayne Hillis said.
‘‘I’m not sure what was behind her Hawera run, she didn’t show much when the pressure went on. It could be the trip away – she did the same the only other time we took her down the line – so we might have to stick closer to home.’’ With a rise of more than 20 ratings points in her last six starts – she is now rated at 101 – Art Beat has reached a difficult mark and with set-weight opportunities few and far between will need to be carefully placed from here on. The other factor is track conditions – six of her eights wins have been on slow or heavy ground – but if the weather was to play its part a race such as the $70,000 weight-for-age 1600m at Tauranga next month would be right up her alley.
Wins by two other Matamatatrained horses at Rotorua, Golden Globe and Toma Valea, was a continuation of very consistent form by the pair trained respectively by Mark Brosnan and Jim Collett.
Golden Globe took his record to three wins from just four starts when he combined again with his trainer’s daughter Sam Collett for an easy win over three-year-old sprint opposition.
Like Art Beat, there isn’t a lot of Golden Globe but his asset is natural galloping ability that he puts to good use. Former leading jockey Jim Collett is making the most of the small team he has in work with Saturday’s win his fourth from just 13 starters to date this season.
Golden Globe has been a special challenge for Jim after selling him as a two-year-old to a group of Auckland owners and having him turn up again when the trainer they had placed him with found him too difficult to handle. The instructions went something like ‘‘You sold him to us so you sort him out!’’ To Jim’s credit – and his daughter Sam deserves mention as well – Golden Globe’s glitches have been ironed out and he’s now a very worthwhile racing proposition.
Toma Valea has also been a model of consistency in recent times, having turned his form around since a set of blinkers was applied.
His last five starts have produced three wins and two seconds, with the other factor in finding the secret to the former persistent maiden, Reese Jones, the rider in all three wins.
Mark Brosnan’s season has got off to an excellent start with his current tally of eight wins coming from 33 raceday starters. Among his happy clients is former Rotorua Racing Club president John Lloyd, one of the partowners of Toma Valea who has been able to cheer home two wins on his home patch in the past three weeks.
Last Friday’s Pukekohe meeting provided a landmark win with two-year-old colt Killa Question for newcomer trainer Paul Shailer. That made up for the disappointment of his first winner, Tiz Weissmuller, being disqualified after returning a positive swab when he won at Matamata back in June.
Paul, who returned to New Zealand after being foreman for leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller, has moved on from that setback and is making good progress as he builds a team around him.
Among his new-found clients is John Thompson of Rich Hill Stud, who placed Killa Question with Paul in the hope of gaining an early win for the colt’s sire, first season stallion Any Suggestion.
That the former top Australian sprinter has come through with a winner so early in the piece means a lot to his immediate career as well as boding well for the future.
Father Time finally caught up on former leading steeplechaser Tumblin’ Down, who died aged 31 last week.