Aotearower wins on heavy ground
Ken and Bev Kelso took a gamble and came up smiling when Aotearower landed a surprise win at Rotorua on Saturday.
It was only through a lack of options that the decision was made to line Aotearower up on a track considered too heavy for an optimum performance. The convincing win over fellow Matamata racemares Beauty’s Rose and Good Lookin’ Gal was a bonus in more than ways than one.
Beforehand her owner Sir Patrick Hogan had been considering a mating with one of his Cambridge Stud stallions, which would mean her racing career would last no more than 120 days after conception.
But given her impressive return to form, those plans have been deferred until next spring and the Kelsos can now look forward to a full season of racing with the five-year-old.
‘‘Patrick was keen to get her in foal but after what we saw on Saturday, he’s changed his mind and put that plan on hold,’’ Ken Kelso said. ‘‘That will give us a clean run hopefully at some nice races coming up.
‘‘We ran her on Saturday without a trial, just a couple of jumpouts, and there weren’t any better options coming up, so it was a pleasant surprise to see what she did.
‘‘Talking to Mickey (Coleman) afterwards, he said the way she feels and what she had shown us earlier in her career, she could be capable of winning a Group Three race.
‘‘We’re certainly happy to know she’ll continue to race on through the season. That was her fourth win from less than 20 starts and like a lot of mares she’s taken a while to mature. Now that she has we might be in for a good season with her.’’
A feature race win would not only boost Aotearower’s brood- mare value but also provide further thrills for the group who race her in partnership with Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan. They include Olympic rowing champions Hamish Bond and Eric Murray – hence the name – as well as a large number of first-time owners under the NZ Thoroughbred Racing Social Racing initiative.
Aotearower was the second of two Matamata winners at Rotorua after the Lance O’Sullivan/ Andrew Scott-trained Keepherinmind had scored earlier in the day. Down south at the Ashburton meeting another from Wexford, Cha Siu Bao, kicked off the day with an impressive win, while Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards added a double with Tavis Star and Imperium.
The two local stables didn’t enjoy quite the same luck in the Ashburton feature, the Barneswood Farm Stakes, but there was still encouragement to be taken from the second placing by Te Akau colt Heroic Valour.
His mission remains the New Zealand 2000 Guineas at Riccarton early next month, for which Cha Siu Bao also boosted his prospects with his minor grade win. The latter’s stablemate Sweet Leader was beaten for the first time in his brief career when only fifth in the Barneswood, but the 2000 Guineas remains on his radar with the likely addition of blinkers to sharpen his game.
Aotearower (centre) powers to a surprise win at Rotorua on Saturday.