Locals star at national events
Matamata-trained horses missed out in the Wellington Cup and the Karaka Million, but there was still plenty of local influence in those and other features contested last weekend.
The winners of the two headlines races, Six O’clock News and Ockham’s Razor, were bred and reared in the district, at Blandford Lodge and Rich Hill Stud respectively. And while Ockham’s Razor has been wholly Australian-owned since being sold for $170,000 at last year’s National Yearling Sale, Cambridge-trained Six O’clock News is still part-owned locally, with Okauia farmer Gavin Hales one of the 10-member syndicate that races the Zabeel gelding.
Gavin has had a lot of fun with his racing interests over the past few years, another big winner being the John Sargent-trained filly Il Quello Veloce in which he had a syndicate share.
Six O’clock News, a son of the former very good Jim Gibbstrained mare Maurine, looked a horse headed for the top when he won the 2009 City of Auckland Cup as a mid-season four year old. He added another win later that summer but then went winless for close to three years.
The drought was finally broken on the first day of the Wellington Cup meeting when Six O’clock News won the Trentham Stakes and he backed that form up with a repeat performance in last Saturday’s feature, turning the tables on Spiro, the horse that had beaten him in the 2011 Wellington Cup.
‘‘It’s been a while between drinks but right now that makes it an even better feeling,’’ said Gavin Hales he before and his wife Margaret joined the victory celebrations in the Trentham birdcage around the horse that had just taken his stake-earnings past $500,000.
Rich Hill Stud principal John Thompson didn’t hold back in celebrating the win by Ockham’s Razor in New Zealand’s richest race, the $1 million Karaka Million at Ellerslie on Sunday evening. And fair enough too, given that the Victorian-trained colt is from the first crop of Rich Hill Stud stallion Any Suggestion.
‘‘That’s the first season sires’ premiership, the overall two-yearold sires’ premiership, the lot,’’ he declared for everyone to hear, mindful no doubt of the benefit the big win would mean for the second season progeny of his grey stallion going through the ring at this week’s National Yearling Sales.
Ockham’s Razor is the product of the close association that Rich Hill has had with major Japanese breeding interests, initially with the stud’s leading stallion Pentire and then the former shuttle stallion Jungle Pocket. Leading Japanese breeder Katsumi Yoshida sent several well-bred broodmares to the Walton nursery as part of the Jungle Pocket deal.
One of them was Shadow Ray, who was initially bred to Jungle Pocket and produced the stakeswinning filly Jungle Juice as well as the recent winner Jungle Knight. Now, in just his second start, Ockham’s Razor has trumped them both and put his sire right on the map.
Big wins have for several years been a matter of course for senior Rich Hill Pentire and on Saturday he added another when Say No More ran away with the Thorndon Mile at Trentham, taking her sire’s tally of Group One winners to 11.
The other black-type feature on Saturday’s Trentham programme, the Gr. 3 Tiger Prawn Desert Gold Stakes, provided a notable result for another Matamata breeding establishment, Waikato Stud. The three-year-old fillies’ feature was won by the John Sargent-trained Quintessential, posting a first black-type success for her sire Fast ’N’ Famous.
Quintessential is from the first crop of the son of champion Australian sire Redoute’s Choice and her win on Saturday capped a run of very promising form by his progeny. Another three-year-old filly doing a good job for Fast ’N’ Famous is the Glenn Old-trained Our Famous Eve, who finished second in the Gr. 2 Royal Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
Quintessential and Our Famous Eve may yet clash in the next race in the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year series, the Gr. 2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic at Te Rapa on February 11.
As well as the big win by Ockham’s Razor, the Sunday twilight Ellerslie meeting also produced important successes for a pair of Matamata-trained threeyear-olds being aimed at the season’s premier classic, the $750,000 Telecom New Zealand Derby.
The Regan Donnison-trained Red Shift followed up on his recent Paeroa maiden win with a stout staying performance in a special condition 2100-metre event. His share of the $30,000 stake took him to 15th in the Derby qualifying order, which doesn’t guarantee a start but takes a fair bit of the worry out of the equation.
Derby qualification issues were settled when Rock ’n’ Pop won the New Zealand 2000 Guineas back in November, but more importantly he has returned to form at just the right time in his second start since the Riccarton classic.
The Jason Bridgman-trained colt dug deep to fight off Graham Richardson’s runner Mosh Pit and win the New Zealand Bloodstock Insurance 3YO Mile by a nose, taking his stake-earnings to $308,175.
‘‘He’s yet to reach full fitness so that run will have cleaned him up nicely,’’ Jason said. Options on the way to the Derby are the Darci Brahma International Stakes at Te Rapa on February 11 or the Avondale Guineas at Ellerslie a week later.
Rock ’n’ Pop is the $5 second favourite for the Derby behind fellow Matamata-trained colt Ocean Park ($3), who is scheduled to have his next start and his first at a middledistance in Saturday’s Waikato Guineas.
Winner: The John Sargent-trained Quintessential (Lisa Allpress) notches a first black-type win for her sire Fast ’N’ Famous in the Tiger Prawn Desert Gold Stakes at Trentham on Saturday.