Leading thoroughbred nursery Waikato Stud has strengthened its relationship with the Matamata Racing Club in the creation of a fillies and mares’ race with special meaning.

Appropriately, the race is named in honour of the late Lisa Chittick and will be contested at the MRC’s annual Premier meeting, Matamata Breeders’ Stakes day.

The Lisa Chittick Plate will be an open 1400-metre race run under set weight and penalty conditions with a stake of $40,000. The inaugural running is scheduled for February 22, a strategic date two weeks before the Royal Descent Stakes at Ellerslie and three weeks ahead of the Gr. 3 Cuddle Stakes at Trentham. Both of those distaff races are contested at 1600m, as is the prime autumn target for the country’s best fillies and mares, the Gr. 1 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha in early April.

The Cuddle Stakes, NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes and the Travis Stakes, which is scheduled for late April at Te Rapa, make up the recently announced NZB Insurance Fillies and Mares Triple Crown carrying a $100,000 bonus for any horse that can win all three.

“It means a lot to my family and no doubt the O’Sullivan family to be able to stage a race at Matamata in honour of Lisa,” commented her former husband, Waikato Stud principal Mark Chittick. “Matamata Breeders’ Stakes day was Lisa’s favourite race meeting of the year and it’s entirely fitting to see this race added to the programme.”

Waikato Stud already sponsors the Gr. 3 Waikato Stud Slipper, a two-year-old colts and geldings’ feature that complements the Gr. 2 J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes for juvenile fillies. The third black-type race on the February 22 card is the Listed Matamata Veterinary Services Kaimai Stakes.

“The Matamata Racing Club recognises Waikato Stud as a huge industry force, and one that Lisa Chittick made an immeasurable contribution to,” added MRC chairman Dennis Ryan. “The club and Waikato already have a strong and long-standing relationship and we are thrilled to play our part in staging a race in memory of somebody we will always consider as one of our own.”