Rough ride for Mata­mata part­ners

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - DEN­NIS RYAN

‘‘On the home front, how­ever, Heroic Valour more than held his end up with his classy Ruakaka win.’’

Rac­ing’s no­to­ri­ous roller­coaster had its way with Mata­mata train­ing part­ners Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards last Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Their day be­gan on the right note when last sea­son’s un­beaten colt Heroic Valour kicked off his three-year- old cam­paign with vic­tory in the Listed North­land Breed­ers’ Stakes at Ruakaka.

Two hours later, how­ever, hopes of a transtas­man fea­ture race dou­ble were dashed when Xtrav­a­gant let the side down with a dis­mal per­for­mance in the Gr. 2 Bob­bie Lewis Qual­ity in Mel­bourne.

The cham­pion three-year- old of 2015-16 was back at the scene of his be­low-par Aus­tralian Guineas ef­fort in the au­tumn, and once again he failed to act on the Flem­ing­ton track.

Af­ter rac­ing in the mid­dle of the field in the straight 1200-me­tre race, it was ob­vi­ous with all of 400 me­tres to run that he wasn’t go­ing to be in it.

Fear­ing there was some­thing amiss, rider Damien Oliver vir­tu­ally pulled Xtrav­a­gant up and tailed the field home.

There was a mea­sure if re­lief when it be­came ap­par­ent he had not suf­fered any in­jury, but that only added to the mys­tery of why he should race many lengths be­low his best.

Fu­ture plans were still up in the air when this edi­tion went to press, but a pos­si­ble trial early next week would be most likely de­ter­mi­nant whether Xtrav­a­gant would re­main in Mel­bourne or re­turn home.

On the home front, how­ever, Heroic Valour more than held his end up with his classy Ruakaka win.

Hav­ing his first start since com­plet­ing a hat-trick in the Gr. 1 Di­a­mond Stakes at Eller­slie in March, he didn’t get it all his way and it was thanks to a busy and ag­gres­sive Mathew Cameron ride that he got up on the line to re­tain his un­beaten record.

Satur­day’s win sets up a clash with New Zealand’s other un­beaten three-year- old head­line act, Cam­bridge geld­ing Ugo Fos­colo. On the way to the first clas­sic of the spring, the Gr. 1 Sothys New Zealand 2000 Guineas at Ric­car­ton in early Novem­ber, they are set to meet for the first time in the Gr. 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas at Hast­ings on Oc­to­ber 1.

NZ RAC­ING DESK

Heroic Valour (Matt Cameron) ex­tends his un­beaten record to four with vic­tory in the North­land Breed­ers Stakes.

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