Meet­ing a lo­cal and na­tional high­light

Matamata Chronicle - - Matamata Breeders’ Stakes - DEN­NIS RYAN

With a his­tory dat­ing back al­most half a cen­tury, the Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes has long been a high­light on the lo­cal rac­ing cal­en­dar as well as gain­ing na­tional sig­nif­i­cance.

First run in 1969, it is now es­tab­lished with a Group Two rat­ing as New Zealand’s most pres­ti­gious race for two-year-old fil­lies. The $100,000 J.Swap Con­trac­tors Ltd Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes in­vari­ably at­tracts the cream of the two-yearold filly crop and the 47th edi­tion to be run this Satur­day af­ter­noon should be no ex­cep­tion.

The likely favourite is the un­beaten filly Sassy ‘N’ Smart, who will bid to be­come the sixth Breed­ers’ Stakes win­ner pre­pared at Te Akau Sta­bles. The first of those was Su­per Nat­u­ral in 1991, pre­pared by the op­er­a­tion’s first res­i­dent trainer, Roger James.

Bayremah four years later was the next, by which time Stephen Autridge had taken the helm, and he sad­dled up the long­shot Max­am­ore to re­peat in 1997. Stephen was train­ing in­de­pen­dently when he pro­duced Cata­marca to win the 1999 Breed­ers’ Stakes, and Mark Walker was the in­cum­bent when Te Akau Coup and Te Akau Rose scored back-to-back wins in 2008 and 2009.

Mata­mata has won just one other Breed­ers’ Stakes since, Banchee do­ing the hon­ours for John Sar­gent in 2010, and now six years later Stephen Autridge, his train­ing part­ner Jamie Richards and Te Akau are back in the spot­light with Sassy ‘N’ Smart.

Af­ter a spring trial win, the Aus­tralian-bred filly was sent to the South Is­land, where she won on de­but and fol­lowed up with a black-type win in the Wel­come Stakes at the New Zealand Cup car­ni­val.

That con­firmed her ma­jor sum­mer tar­get, but things went awry when, lin­ing up as a hot favourite on her home track on Jan­uary 30, she was scratched at the bar­rier af­ter be­com­ing frac­tious and rear­ing over back­wards. Sent back to the tri­als two weeks ago, she gave a fault­less dis­play both be­fore and dur­ing to re­tain her un­beaten record and get the Breed­ers’ Stakes green light.

Sassy ‘N’ Smart won’t be the only lo­cal lin­ing up, with the Lance Noble-trained Te­sia, the win­ner of one of her three starts, and the Lance O’Sul­li­van-An­drew Scott-trained duo of Feisty Jane and Gold Rush also well in the mix.

Feisty Jane, run­ner-up in her only two starts, will be out to give Michael Cole­man his fourth win­ning ride in the Breed­ers’ Stakes, while along with Gold Rush she can take Wex­ford Sta­bles’ over­all tally to seven.

With 17 lo­cally trained win­ners dat­ing back to the first in 1981 and a six-year gap since the most re­cent, it’s ob­vi­ous that the home track con­tin­gent can’t take the vis­i­tors lightly. Prom­i­nent amongst them will be O’Rachael, trained at Ard­more by Stephen Mc­Kee, and What Choux Want, who will bid for the first Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes vic­tory by a South Is­land-trained filly.

The Jimmy Choux filly is trained by Ric­car­ton-based An­drew Carston and is the win­ner of one of three starts in Can­ter­bury be­fore com­ing north to fin­ish fifth in last month’s Karaka Mil­lion.

Un­beaten lo­cal filly Sassy ‘N’ Smart (left) and South Is­land vis­i­tor What Choux Want will do bat­tle again in Satur­day’s J.Swap Con­trac­tors Ltd Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes.

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