Stakes targets are in the offing for promising juvenile The Victress following her debut win in the Lindsay Goudie & Brian Hare Memorial 1000 at Te Aroha on Wednesday.
Backed into $1.20 favouritism, The Victress began well for jockey Opie Bosson to take an early front-running role and the pair didn’t relinquish their advantage, holding out a fast-finishing Elegant Jazz to win by half a length.
“It was a lovely ride by Opie, taking bad luck out of the equation, he controlled the speed, and she’ll improve with that,” said Mark Walker, who trains the filly in partnership with Sam Bergerson.
“She’s got a really good constitution and great brain on her.”
The Victress won her only trial in August over 650m at Te Rapa and her trainers were pleased to make a winning start to her career on Wednesday after an interrupted spring campaign.
“We had a bit of a setback with her in the spring, after she’d won the trial, and providing she pulls up well we’ll look at the Wellesley Stakes,” Walker said.
Te Akau have a strong recent history in the Listed IRT Wellesley Stakes (1000m), having won the 2021 and 2022 editions with Quattro Quinta and Hanalei respectively.
They will be hoping to make it three wins in four years when they head to Trentham on Saturday-week with The Victress, who was purchased by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis at last year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for $250,000.
Te Akau were back in the winner’s circle later on the card when Caravella took out the Thames Harness Racing Club Sprint (1200m) in the hands of Opie Bosson.
The victory continues the four-year-old mare’s purple patch of form, having won first-up at Taupo in November before placing at Rotorua last month.
“It was a top ride by Opie and the owners have been patient with her,” Walker said. “She’s been a slower maturing horse, and has had a few niggles and issues, but she's now stringing together a solid record.
“She’ll be up to Rating 75 now, which is quite a strong grade, but it will be interesting to see how she measures up.”
The daughter of Caravaggio was another yearling purchase by Ellis, who bought her out of Wentwood Grange’s 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale draft for $115,000.
“She’s going pretty well this mare and had to be good to win today,” Ellis said.
“She’s not the biggest but shows plenty of determination and is probably going to step over a bit more ground as well.
“We had her half-sister Our Abbadean in the stable for the Hawkins family at Wentwood Grange, and she performed very well. She ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown during the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival and came of age as an older mare when winning the Awapuni Gold Cup (Gr. 2, 2000m) and Travis Stakes (Gr. 2, 2000m).
“She was really good stakes' quality mare and the more wins Caravella can get on the board the more valuable she becomes.
“It’s a good family and Wentwood Grange is one of the very astute breeders in our industry.”