Filly car­ries on her win­ning way

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - DEN­NIS RYAN

Box­ing Day seems a long time ago as we look back on the start of the fes­tive sea­son of rac­ing, but it still held numer­ous high­lights for Mata­mata horses.

Top billing must go to the su­per-tal­ented filly Volpe Ve­loce, who added an­other panel to her picket-fence form­line by win­ning the $100,000 Eight Carat Clas­sic on the first day of the Eller­slie car­ni­val.

Two weeks af­ter win­ning the Eu­logy Stakes at Awa­puni, the Gra­ham Richard­son-trained filly was fac­ing a stronger Group Two field, but still proved dom­i­nant as she took her un­beaten se­quence to six.

Her win­ning run had be­gun as an au­tumn two-year-old on her home track and con­tin­ued with a stakes win in her sec­ond and last race of the sea­son.

The start of her three-year- old cam­paign proved any­thing but plain sail­ing with a se­ries of set­backs, but the classy bay fi­nally found her win­ning touch again in Oc­to­ber and has con­tin­ued un­de­feated.

Hav­ing missed her chance at a Group One race in the spring, there was some spec­u­la­tion that she might step up to elite grade in this Satur­day’s Levin Clas­sic at Tren­tham.

Con­nec­tions were not keen to send Volpe Ve­loce on a big trip south just yet, and she will in­stead run next in the $250,000 Karaka 3YO Mile at Eller­slie at the end of the month be­fore step­ping up to 2000 me­tres in the Sir Tris­tram Fil­lies’ Clas­sic at Te Rapa.

All go­ing to plan, then the call will have to be made whether to tar­get the coun­try’s rich­est clas­sic, the $1 mil­lion Voda­fone New Zealand Derby in early March at Eller­slie, or con­cen­trate on the fil­lies’ equiv­a­lent, the $300,000 Well­field New Zealand Oaks at Tren­tham.

Box­ing Day at Eller­slie also marked a suc­cess­ful start to the newly formed trainer-jockey part­ner­ship of Stephen Autridge, Jamie Richards and Opie Bos­son.

Af­ter a Hong Kong stint when op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­ally make his mark were lack­ing, Opie re­turned to New Zealand and in late De­cem­ber it was an­nounced that he would be re­sum­ing his role of sev­eral years ago as sta­ble rider for Te Akau Rac­ing.

It took lit­tle time for him to re­assert his prow­ess, with a backto- back dou­ble on Te Akau run­ners Hall Of Fame and Splurge on the open­ing day of the Eller­slie car­ni­val.

The Eller­slie ac­tion con­tin­ued on New Year’s Day, where the Sis­tema Rail­way was the cen­tre­piece.

Hopes were high that the Ken and Bev Kelso-trained Per­fect Fit could add the big sprint to her record, but that con­fi­dence was se­verely damp­ened by a wide draw.

Reg­u­lar rider Michael Cole­man came up with a ride that com­pen­sated for any dis­ad­van­tage, but on the day there was one bet­ter, Wan­ganui gal­loper Start Won­der­ing, and Per­fect Fit had to set­tle for sec­ond.

Mata­mata still got its share of the ac­tion, how­ever, with the Peter McKay-trained, Shaun McKay-rid­den Clar­ify charg­ing away with the $80,000 Dun­stan Stay­ers’ Cham­pi­onship Fi­nal, and Gra­ham Richard­son chim­ing in with a win to his very promis­ing mare Wild Flower in the last race of the car­ni­val.

SUP­PLIED

Volpe Ve­loce takes her un­beaten record to six with vic­tory in the Eight Carat Clas­sic at Eller­slie on Box­ing Day.

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