Good news for Mata­mata two-year-old fea­ture

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Local News - DEN­NIS RYAN

The Mata­mata Rac­ing Club re­ceived some good news last week with con­fir­ma­tion that one of the fea­ture events on its an­nual cal­en­dar has been up­graded.

Since 1979 the Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes has been New Zealand’s high­est rated race for two-year-old fil­lies, ac­corded a Group Two rat­ing and a stake of $100,000. That race is the head­line act at Mata­mata’s Fe­bru­ary Premier meet­ing, while the two-yearold males do bat­tle in the Reid & Har­ri­son Slip­per which is now rated Group Three with a cor­re­spond­ing stake in­crease to $70,000.

The Slip­per was first run in 1987 and in the years since has been won by some of the coun­try’s best age-group per­form­ers. Star two-year-olds on the roll of hon­our roll in­clude Keenin­sky, Darci Brahma and Jok­ers Wild, the win­ners from 2004 to 2006, while the two most re­cent edi­tions have been won by next start Group One win­ners Heroic Valour and Sum­mer Pas­sage.

The grad­ing of all New Zealand black type races is over­seen by the Pat­tern Com­mit­tee, whose task it is to eval­u­ate the full range from Group One to Listed. The Mata­mata Slip­per has more than held its own in the lat­ter cat­e­gory, but un­til re­cently the clash with the week ear­lier Gr. 3 Taranaki Clas­sic stood in the way of an up­grade. That has been re­solved in the 2017-18 dates sched­ule, with the Taranaki Clas­sic now be­ing run on the first Satur­day in Fe­bru­ary, and it is an­tic­i­pated that the three-week gap will en­hance both races, as well as the J Swap Con­trac­tors Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes.

Sum­mer Pas­sage, in­ci­den­tally, kicked off his Mel­bourne spring cam­paign with an en­cour­ag­ing per­for­mance for train­ers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott at Flem­ing­ton on Satur­day.

‘‘Weigh­ing ev­ery­thing up, we have to be pleased with the run,’’ Lance said. ‘‘To see him go out and be com­pet­i­tive, then to fin­ish right in be­hind them af­ter his jockey had to take hold of him, we’ve got some­thing to build on now.’’

The Reid & Har­ri­son Slip­per, won last sea­son by Sum­mer Pas­sage, has been up­graded to Group Three.

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