Thrilling finish makes for great day
Athrilling home-straight duel between two high class fillies, a massive crowd enjoying the Matamata Racing Club’s flagship event on a perfect summer track and a local driving away with a $50,000 car prize highlighted last weekend’s extremely successful J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes day.
Given the contest that unfolded, there was a certain irony that the field for New Zealand’s highest rated 2-year-old fillies’ race numbered only six.
That mattered not a dot when it came to the cut and thrust of quality racing as home town favourite Bounding and Hastings raider Recite knuckled down to fight for their share of the $100,000 stake.
The outcome after the final 300 metres when both refused to yield was victory by mere inches to the visitor. All credit to Recite for keeping her unbeaten record intact, but huge plaudits also to Bounding as she tasted defeat for the first time in three starts.
Recite, a member of the John Bary stable that housed former champion 3-year-old Jimmy Choux, is a daughter of the former classy Matamata-trained galloper and now exciting young stallion Darci Brahma. His wins for trainer Mark Walker included the Matamata Slipper for juvenile males on Breeders’ Stakes day eight years ago. Now he’s making his name as one of New Zealand’s most promising young stallions.
On-course to share in the excitement of Recite’s win was former Waikato Stud general manager Rick Williams, who these days manages the bloodstock affairs of Queenslander Dick Karreman. For several years the quarryman has owned Cambridge nursery The Oaks Stud, where Darci Brahma stands and where Recite was bred.
Recite’s win over Bounding – with another local in Role Model nearly six lengths away third – marked the third successive year that the locals have been thwarted in their attempts to win the most prized of all hometown races. Matamata trainers still got their share of the action, however, with six wins on the 10-race card headed by one of the centre’s youngest participants, Jason Price, saddling up Reid & Harrison Slipper winner Al Strada.
In their efforts to establish themselves in the competitive training ranks, Jason and his wife Kelly have been prepared to put real money up to secure likely talent. In recent years that has included the smart filly Queen Boudicca, who finished third in the 2011 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes, while another is the promising stayer Juggernaut Rock.
The Prices have shared ownership of those two horses with family members, but the stable member that has given them their first black-type win is owned entirely by themselves.
They paid $22,500 for the strapping chestnut at last year’s Karaka yearling sales and got a quick return when he won on debut at Paeroa in early January. Disappointment followed in the country’s richest race, the Karaka Million after Al Strada had a luckless run and finished last, but the real McCoy turned up on Saturday to lead all the way under a heady Reese Jones ride.
The Prices’ share of the $50,000 stake puts them well in the black on their most successful purchase, with the promise of more to come as his proud owners eye the big autumn double of the $200,000 Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes and $225,000 The Oaks Stud Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes.
While Jason’s is the trainer’s name in the racebook, he’s more than ready to give credit where it’s due for a horse that proved very tough to master during his early education.
‘‘Kelly deserves all the credit for that. She’s the one who sorted him out,’’ says the young man who began his career under the tutelage of Mike Moroney.
‘‘This is a massive thrill and makes all the hard work worthwhile. He’s a lovely horse with so much natural talent.’’
Al Strada’s big win completed a clean sweep by the locals of the first half of Saturday’s programme, begun by the Phil Stevens-trained longshot Shez Kapable and continued by Mrs Neat, from the Mike MoroneyChad Ormsby team, the Stephen Autridge-trained Silverdale and Brave Centaur, prepared by Lance Noble.
Silverdale appeared to have lost all chance when he blew the start in the Rich Hill Stud 3YO 1200 to be several lengths last in the early running, but after catching the field he just kept coming and ran out an impressive winner.
Brave Centaur completed a hattrick when he tackled open company for the first time, adding to wins on the way through the grades at Ellerslie at either end of December.
Appropriately, the son of O’Reilly’s fifth career win came in the Waikato Stud 1200 and now owners Michael Stedman and Terry Magill can look forward to a tilt at the prestigious Easter Handicap back at Ellerslie in April.
Appropriate is also the only way to describe the sixth Matamatatrained winner on Saturday’s programme.
Dancing Attendance won the New World Matamata 1600 in the purple and white colours of Henrietta, the Dowager Duchess of Bedford, whose family has such an affinity with the Breeders’ Stakes as the former generous sponsors of Matamata’s flagship race.
Several other factors added to the pleasure of the win, first that the English aristocrat known to so many in the Matamata district as Lady T was on-course to cheer home her latest winner in the historic colours, and that like so many before her, Dancing Attendance is a descendant of the famous Bloomsbury Stud (UK) foundation mare Mrs Moss.
The real pleasure that Lady T was able to share was that Dancing Attendance is trained by Eric Betty, who along with his wife Glenis has had a longstanding working relationship with the Duchess.
When Dancing Attendance arrived from Australia in November, having failed to get in foal at what was to be the end of her racing career, Eric suggested that he should reapply for his trainer’s licence and give the mare one more preparation.
‘‘Why not?’’ all agreed, and on Saturday, at just her second start for her new trainer, the lovely big chestnut delivered with career win No 4 and the promise of more to come.
Matamata Breeders’ Stakes thriller: Hastings raider Recite (Mark Du Plessis, nearest camera) just edges out local hope Bounding.