Contessa Vanessa (NZ) steps up in Eight Carat

Contessa Vanessa (NZ) (Bullbars) made a big move up the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series leaderboard with a stunning last-gasp win in the $100,000 Group 2 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

The Graeme and Debbie Rogerson-trained filly collected no points from an unlucky seventh in the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton, and she was again blocked in the straight before sprinting into third place in the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes (1550m) at Awapuni to earn 1.5 points.

On the big stage of Ellerslie Racecourse on Boxing Day, Contessa Vanessa produced a breakthrough performance.

After getting back in the field, Contessa Vanessa began to warm up in the straight before once again hitting a wall of horses and having to change course. Jockey Ryan Elliot found a path along the inside and the filly burst through, snatching a thrilling victory by a head from Kapoor (NZ) (Reliable Man) and Gris Dame (NZ) (Reliable Man).

“Halfway up the straight I had nowhere to go but she got the split and really lifted through it,” said Elliot. “She’s a quiet filly who you just have to ask, and she will do it for you.”

Co-trainer Graeme Rogerson was delighted by the filly’s change of fortunes.

“She’s just had no luck,” he said. “Chris Johnson said she should have run second in the 1000 Guineas and Ryan thought she should have won her last start. I think she’d have been very unlucky if she hadn’t won today.”

Bred by Robhar Breeding & Racing, Contessa Vanessa was a $50,000 purchase at the 2016 Select Sale.

She has now had 13 starts for three wins, four placings and $95,850 in prizemoney for owners B W Amies, D W Lake, G A Rogerson MNZM, L H M Salvidge and D Wenham.

Contessa Vanessa earned another 8 points for her Eight Carat win, taking her to a total 9.5 and third place on the table. Kapoor and Gris Dame earned their first points of the Series, picking up 4 and 2 respectively.

The top two positions on the table remain unchanged. Dijon Bleu (NZ) (Burgundy) bypassed the race and still leads with 16 points, while second-placed Hasahalo (NZ) (Savabeel) was unplaced and unable to add to her 12 points.

The next leg of the Series is the $100,000 Group 2 Stella Artois Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day, with Contessa Vanessa likely to be a leading contender again.

“I think she can win the Royal Stakes,” Rogerson said.

Vendor Highview
Purchaser Team Rogerson (Hamilton)
Breeding Bullbars – Di Lusso
Sale Lot 835, 2016 Select Sale, $50,000
Bred by Robhar Breeding & Racing

In other news Savile Row (NZ) (Makfi) showed his true colours at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, coming out on top in an all-Karaka finish to the $60,000 Listed Hallmark Stud Handicap (1200m).

The $120,000 Premier Sale purchase had confirmed his class as a three-year-old last season with Group 1 placings in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Levin Classic (1600m) and against older horses in the Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m).

He had performed below expectations during an Australian campaign, but his first-up sprint win at Ellerslie marked a triumphant homecoming.

“His manners weren’t very good in Australia and we just couldn’t work out why he raced so badly,” co-trainer Mike Moroney said.

“It was just the way they ran their races that saw him pulling hard and over-racing. We tried a few things to settle him down, but it didn’t work, however I do think he’s a far wiser horse now for having had that Australian trip.”

Savile Row dashed home from the rear of the field to score by a nose from Passing Shot (NZ) (Swiss Ace) who is a multiple stakes winner and $330,000 earner and cost just $50,000 at the 2013 Select Sale.

A fast-finishing third was the $200,000 Premier Sale purchase Chambord (NZ) (Zabeel). He has also been a stakes winner and placed in the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas.

Savile Row is expected to head to next month's Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham.

Raced by his breeder Kevin Hickman, he has now had 12 starts for three wins, four placings and more than $277,000 in prizemoney.

Vendor Valachi Downs
Purchaser Bryce N Heys Ellerslie Lodge (New South Wales)
Breeding Makfi (GB) - Fleece (GB)
Sale Lot 391, 2015 Premier Sale, $120,000
Bred by K J Hickman