Faith in moonlight vindicated
Karyn and Hamish McQuade’s faith in their lightly raced mare Underthemoonlight has been well and truly vindicated.
On Saturday at Te Rapa, in just her eighth start, the four-year- old beat the open sprinters and lodged her bid for a shot at black-type in the Team Wealleans Classic at Tauranga later this month.
Underthemoonlight’s career has been somewhat unorthodox since she began racing last winter, but the results she’s now delivering underline her ability.
After placings in her first two starts she leapfrogged maiden grade by winning a Rating 65 race and more recently her connections have taken a further leap by dropping her into open class as a one-race winner.
‘‘I can imagine people have been wondering what we’re up to, but we’ve done it for a reason,’’ trainer Karyn McQuade, who shares ownership with her husband, said.
‘‘We’ve always rated her and believe that she has the class to take on stakes company, so that’s why we’ve set our sights high when placing her.’’
Underthemoonlight was also bred by the McQuades, by the under-rated stallion El Hermano from the O’Reilly mare Midnight Dip, who they bought at auction several years ago for $4,500.
They had inside knowledge of the family, having trained Midnight Dip’s half-sister Midnight Kiss to win two of her four starts and finish third in the New Zealand Oaks.
She was then sold to the United States where she has become a successful producer with two stakes performers, including the winner of the Santa Anita Derby.
Underthemoonlight was spelled following her first win and following two preparatory runs in the autumn she returned to form when an unlucky second at Rotorua last month.
Her next start was in an open sprint at Ellerslie on Queen’s Birthday weekend, when she had the race won until her lack of experience caught up on her.
On the strength of that narrow defeat she was back at the races seven days later, starting as favourite at Te Rapa on Saturday and duly delivering for her regular rider Anna Jones.
‘‘We needed to run her again because it was the only chance to lift her rating and be able to consider a start at Tauranga,’’ Karyn said.
‘‘I only rode her once during the week when I took her for canter on Thursday morning and she was so bouncy when I brought her in from the paddock on Friday afternoon I knew she would be hard to beat.
‘‘The win took her rating up to 78, so I’m hoping that’s enough to make the field for Tauranga.’’
Across the Tasman former Matamata lad Rory Hutchings has been making waves on the highly competitive Sydney scene.
Rory has come a long way from his early days as a naturally gifted apprentice with Wexford Stables and this week ended his indentures under champion trainer Chris Waller with the Sydney apprentice jockeys’ title in safe keeping.
On Saturday at Randwick he took his metropolitan (city) tally to 32 wins, 14 clear of the next on the juniors’ table, Koby Jennings.
His final day’s riding as an apprentice was at Canterbury on Monday and having outridden his claim some months ago, he’s in a positive frame of mind as he steps into the senior ranks.
Underthemoonlight (Anna Jones) bridges the gap to open class with a well-deserved win at Te Rapa on Saturday.