Rough ride for Matamata partners
‘‘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.
Heroic Valour (Matt Cameron) extends his unbeaten record to four with victory in the Northland Breeders Stakes.