News & Events
<< Back
Stunning Underthemoonlight wins Taranaki Breeders' Stakes for Matamata
11 Oct 2016

Horrendous weather may have forced the abandonment of a local showpiece, but Matamata mares Underthemoonlight and Rocknrolla headed to Hawera for today’s Gr. 3 Rich Hill Stud Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes and ensured the training centre still had cause for celebration.

The pair finished first and third in the $80,000 weight-for-age fillies and mares’ feature as Underthemoonlight stole the show in a stunning six-length demolition of her rivals.

“It’s so disappointing what happened at Matamata, but this was just amazing and it’s given us something to celebrate anyway,” said Underthemoonlight’s trainer and part-owner Karyn McQuade, who also had Kindaleica entered for the Matamata Cup at today’s abandoned meeting.

“The weather’s been unbelievable at home. Pony clubs, A & P shows and pretty much everything else is being called off. The ground is just saturated. We knew it wasn’t looking good for Cup day, but we had our fingers crossed that it might be okay. But then they apparently had a whole lot more rain yesterday and there was nothing they can do.”

Underthemoonlight’s richly deserved first black-type win emphatically erased the McQuade team’s disappointment. Ridden by talented central districts apprentice Tim Johnson, the five-year-old settled just behind midfield as Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained runners Bonniegirl and Honey Rider showed the way.

As those two well-supported runners began to labour in the testing ground approaching the home turn, Underthemoonlight cut the corner and went into hyperdrive. The rest of the field fell back into her distant wake as Underthemoonlight blasted her way down the Hawera straight.

The win was Underthemoonlight’s third from 15 career starts and took her prize-money earnings past $120,000. She had previously run fourth in two stakes events, behind Summer’s Day in the Listed Tauranga Classic and a desperately unlucky run behind top-class colt Saracino in the Gr. 2 Foxbridge Plate.

“It was a fantastic performance today, a really great win,” McQuade told “She really deserved to win a good race like this. She’s been close in a few good races, especially the Foxbridge. She’s been blocked at crucial times and then hasn’t been able to produce her big finishing burst.

“Today she was brilliant. She got a little bit further back in the field than we wanted, although I don’t think Tim had much choice in that matter. But he used his brains, saved ground at the turn and then the mare did the rest. She really showed everyone what she’s capable of today.”

Slice Of Class and Rocknrolla rattled home from the rear of the field to finish second and third. Rocknrolla is a recent addition to Karen Fursdon’s stable from the Ruakaka base of Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs, transferred south in the hope of picking up black type before being retired to stud. This was her first stakes placing.

Bonniegirl held on for fourth, with the Gold Trail Stakes winner Honey Rider struggling on the Slow9 track and finishing eighth.

While the original plan was for Underthemoonlight’s campaign to draw to a close with today’s race, her stunning performance may change that.

“She’s been up for a long time now and we’re getting to the point of turning her out, this was going to be her last run,” McQuade said. “But with the weather the way it is, depending on how she comes through this race, we may bring her back for one more run in the Group Three at Rotorua next week.”

The Breeders’ Stakes was the second black-type win of Johnson’s riding career, and both have come in Taranaki – he rode Longchamp to victory in the Listed Opunake Cup at New Plymouth in July.

Underthemoonlight is by the in-form stallion El Hermano, who completed a double at this afternoon’s meeting when Laddie Of Oakview won the last race on the card.

Today’s Group Three win took El Hermano’s prize-money for the season past $200,000 and thrust him into the top three on the 2015-16 New Zealand sires’ premiership behind Savabeel and Iffraaj. His runners have earned more than $220,000 this season, headed by Group One placings for El Pescado and Farm Boy.

Richard Edmunds 

The Informant