Wins both sides of Tasman
Local couple Kylie Fawcett and Eddie Wright had a weekend to remember when their two horses Villifye and Miss Keepsake won important races on either side of the Tasman last Saturday and Sunday.
The pair operate Oxford Thoroughbreds, a medium-scale breeding, agistment and sales preparation facility near Hinuera. Miss Keepsake, who began her racing career in New Zealand under the name My Keepsake, and Villifye are half-sisters who were bred and reared by the couple, but unlike others in the same model they were not put through the sale ring.
Instead Miss Keepsake went into training with Andrew Scott and in the autumn of 2010 hit form and was sent to Queensland in the hope of contesting major three-year-old events at the winter carnival.
She met the challenge with two early wins and then hit the jackpot by winning the $500,000 Queensland Oaks, then a week later added a third placing in the Queensland Derby.
Back for spring racing, Miss Keepsake was set for the Melbourne carnival but failed to reproduce her best form, after which the decision was made to transfer her to Sydney trainer Joseph Pride.
It has been a long road back to winning form, with her best performances over the past two seasons three minor placings at black-type level, but on Sunday she bounced back in style with a fresh-up win in a A$70,000 race over 1300 metres at Kembla Grange, on the southern outskirts of Sydney.
‘‘We’re really thrilled for Keepsake,’’ Kylie added. ‘‘It’s so hard when you reach that level and to be all around the good ones.’’
That win of course came just a day after Villifye had made her own mark in feature race company by winning the $85,000 Windsor Park Stud Japan Trophy at Tauranga.
In just her tenth raceday appearance, the four-year-old O’reilly mare got in the deciding strides to win the Group Two race by a long head.
Villifye and Miss Keepsake are daughters of a mare named Jacilo, who was a spur-of-the-moment purchase by Kylie Fawcett and another local horsewoman, Rachel Williamson (Spriggens) when they saw her going through the ring cheaply at a Karaka mixed bloodstock sale in 2005.
‘‘I was standing there with Rachel and her father Tom, who both reckoned she was worth a punt, so we ended up buying her for $2600,’’ Kylie said.
‘‘We sent her to Keeper to breed Miss Keepsake in partnership and then when Rachel decided to move to Australia, Eddie and I bought out her share.’’
Villifye’s win also continued the fantastic run of form being experienced this season by horses from the Graham Richardson stable.
With a tally of 33 wins and a top-10 trainers’ premiership position, Graham is enjoying the best season of his career.
Saturday’s winning rider Craig Grylls has also been a big part of that success. As well as his latest big win on Villifye, he has also played his part on the Richardsontrained stayer Single Minded, the winner this year of the City of Auckland Cup and Avondale Gold Cup.
Having proven herself in open company, Villifye will now be given her chance in the country’s only Group One race for fillies and mares, the $200,000 Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha on Easter Saturday, April 7.
Another Matamata-trained winner from Tauranga on the weekend heading in the same direction is the Ken and Bev Kelso-trained filly Xanadu.
She took her record to four wins from six starts with a comprehensive performance under Michael Coleman in an agegroup 1300-metre event.
Xanadu earned seven rating points with the win, taking her to 85, which her connections are now hoping will be sufficient to gain a start in the big Te Aroha race.
Great moment: Villifye and Craig Grylls return to scale after winning the $85,000 Windsor Park Stud Japan Trophy at Tauranga on Saturday.