Top races at mercy of weather
Confusion and uncertainty have been the over-riding themes of racing on both sides of the Tasman lately as the weather and other uncontrollable factors have undermined normal business.
The tail-end of Cyclone Debbie, which had devastated Queensland and northern New South Wales, cut a swathe through New Zealand last week and race meetings didn’t escape. For the first time in memory, every scheduled midweek fixture the length of the country had to be abandoned due to water-logged track conditions.
In the north salvation came on the weekend when the remarkable draining qualities of the sand-infused Te Rapa track enabled Te Aroha’s flagship New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes meeting to proceed and quality racing ensued.
Among those to show to advantage in the conditions was Matamata mare Cote d’Or, who made the step up to open company for an easy win in the J Swap Te Aroha Cup. Since a maiden win on her home track in December, Cote d’Or has been brought through the grades by Ken and Bev Kelso to now have a record of five wins from her last seven starts.
‘‘That will be it for now though,’’ says Ken. ‘‘She’s come a long way when you think she was still a maiden only four months ago, so she can go for a spell and come back in the spring.’’
A return to Te Rapa at the end of the month is on the cards for the Stephen Autridge/Jamie Richards-trained Our Abbadean, who shouldered 59 kilograms to a brave win in Rating 75 grade on Saturday. Her next mission is likely to be the Gr. 2 Travis Stakes on April 29.
The Te Akau training partners had a frustrating time of it at Randwick last Saturday when their recent acquisition Chance to Dance put up a sterling effort for second in the A$2 million Sydney Cup.
The problem was that the 3200-metre feature had been ruled a no-race well before the finish after Victorian stayer Almoonqith had fractured a hind leg just past the winning post on the first circuit and with his and another jockey dumped on the track, stewards put safety concerns first.
However, despite flag warnings and other measures from mounted clerks of the course as the field headed down the back straight, not all jockeys realised and six horses continued on.
Chance to Dance, fourth placegetter at his last start and subsequently bought for A$260,000 by John Galvin’s Fortuna Syndications, was one of those and he crossed the finish line in second place, splitting the English-trained stablemates Polarisation and Penglai Pavilion.
‘‘It was very frustrating how things panned out, the stake for second was $380,000 and he would have paid for himself, but at least we know we’ve got a horse with an exciting future,’’ commented Jamie Richards, who was in charge of affairs at Randwick.
Indications were that the Aust- ralian Turf Club would make a decision this week to reschedule the Sydney Cup, in which case Chance to Dance and the Mike Moroney/Pam Gerard-trained Mister Impatience, one of the horses pulled up on Saturday, will be starters.
‘‘Mister Impatience was just warming into it when he was pulled up,’’ Mike said. ‘‘Jay (Ford, jockey) thought he was travelling like a winner up until then, so I’d hope he gets another chance.’’
Cote d’Or (centre) makes it five wins from her last seven starts with victory in the J Swap Te Aroha Cup at Te Rapa on Saturday.