Everything but a local winner
Matamata Breeders’ Stakes day had just about everything in the manner of high quality racing, excitement and tension, but in the midst of it all something significant was missing.
For much longer than anyone cares to remember, no locally trained horse has won a race on Matamata’s biggest day of the year. Three winners from Cambridge, two from Hastings, one each from Tauranga, Hamilton and even Hunterville (that most unlikely of northern Manawatu settlements) were the order of the day.
Matamata-trained horses tried hard and at least one of them – the Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott-trained Smarts Encosta – could be considered desperately unlucky but when racing was over, their tally comprised nothing better than four seconds and six third placings.
Resident jockeys Reese Jones and Craig Grylls did what they could to uphold local pride with a win apiece while Strata Lady, a stablemate of Smarts Encosta, put up a sight making the pace in the J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes, only to concede to the Graeme and Debbie Rogerson- trained Serena Miss and Stephen Marsh’s Nahema.
In one of the other features on the nine- race programme, the Marks Ewen Kaimai Stakes, Sur- pass cemented his place as equal favourite for next Wednesday’s Auckland Cup with a fighting third that ensured the MoroneyOrmsby-trained stayer will strip fit for the big 3200-metre race.
In what seemed an interminable wait following the Breeders’ Stakes, the crowd on-course was treated via the large infield screen to unique theatre as Graeme Rogerson railed in defence of the protest that alleged his wayward filly Serena Miss cost runner-up Nahema the $62,500 first prize.
The next race was delayed while officials grappled with the tense scenario.
Eventually some order was restored as Serena Miss was confirmed as the winner of the prestigious event.
‘‘ That was the only decision they could have made,’’ contended the filly’s trainer bullishly.
‘‘She was the best horse on the day.’’
with those observations and also with the judicial decision, but there’s no denying that Serena Miss will forever be known as the winner of the 2015 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes.
From a local perspective, the big positive to come out of the day was the excellent racing surface that belied another dry summer affecting surrounding farmland.
The kind, verdant conditions now evident on the Matamata racetrack are essentially the result of the new irrigation system that was commissioned in late December and the benefits of which are now so obvious.
Racetrack irrigation is in itself a contentious topic – and nothing will ever beat what nature delivers from above – but there’s no denying that, managed properly, it’s an indispensable aid in ensuring optimum conditions for the vast majority of horses competing at this time of the year.
KAIMAI STAKES: Hunterville raider Benzini takes the Marks Ewen & Associates Kaimai Stakes, while local galloper Surpass confirms his Auckland Cup credentials with a solid run for third.