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
“It was a fantastic performance today, a really great win,” McQuade
told www.theinformant.co.nz. “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
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.