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McQuades bite the bullet with Underthmoonlight
23 Aug 2016

Karyn and Hamish McQuade, the part-owners of Underthemoonlight, have bitten the bullet and made a late entry for Saturday’s Gr. 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes.

Minutes before today’s noon deadline, the Matamata couple decided to fork out the $1,265 late nomination fee on their 78-rated mare. Now with Underthemoonlight the only horse among the 17 entries not guaranteed   a start in the $200,000 feature, they will have to sit it out in the hope of making the field.

Earlier this morning last year’s Makfi runner-up Ryan Mark was a shock withdrawal due to a diminished appetite, while Awapuni mare North And South was also pulled out, reducing the list to 15, and then last year’s Makfi third placegetter Ginner Hart was supplemented.

“It’s not an easy position to be in, but we’ve decided to give it a shot and see what happens over the next few days,” said Karyn McQuade, who also trains the El Hermano mare. “We’ve also got her in the open mile and she’s safe for a start in that, so we can just prefer her for the weekend and see where we stand on race morning.”

The McQuades have always held the five-year-old, a close relative of their 2004 New Zealand Oaks placegetter Midnight Kiss, in high regard and this isn’t the first time they have set their sights high.

Her first win came in Rating 65 grade and she was still a one-race winner when she finished second and then won in open sprint company during the winter. Underthemoonlight’s last start produced an eye-catching and extremely unlucky fourth in the Gr. 2 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate, when she was blocked for room in the home straight.

When she finally worked into the clear she flashed home for fourth, less than three lengths from the winner Saracino and only half a length from second.

“That effort told us we weren’t over-rating her,” McQuade added. “With any sort of luck she would have finished second and Cameron (Lammas, jockey) said she could even have tested the winner.

“It’s ironic that if she had just finished third in the Foxbridge Plate we would have made the Makfi field, so at least we have that confidence about her against these higher rated horses.

“The other thing about her is that unlike a lot of Saturday’s field she’s hard fit. I galloped her this morning and she felt as good as ever.”

Dennis Ryan

The Informant