Kilkenny (yellow cap) and Paignton fight out the finish. Kenton Wright www.raceimages.co.nz
Progeny of well-performed mares that scored impressively during their careers won back-to-back races through the mid stages of the card at Pukekohe on Wednesday.
The first of them was Kilkenny (4 Ch. G. Volksraad – Akela, by Al Akbar), trained locally by Richard Yuill. His dam, Akela, won six times across the whole spectrum of track conditions, yet showed considerable ability to quicken on genuine dead or slow footing.
The second winner, Chico (4 B. M. High Chaparral – Gypsy’s Daughter, by Mi Preferido), trained by Yves Sequin, also hails from a talented race-mare.
Gypsy’s Daughter won seven races including the Manawatu Breeders Stakes – weight-for-age for fillies and mares over 2000m at Awapuni – while middle distance racing on good footing met with her appreciation, she also counted two wins from four starts on dead going.
Interestingly, both Kilkenny and Chico were off a spell in excess of 200-days for their fresh-up assignments.
Recently gelded, having bled when finishing third when last presented in March, Kilkenny paraded in good order and showed no signs of his previous ailment when fighting off the favourite, Paignton (Riviera), after the pair knuckled down to duel in the home straight.
Like his dam, Kilkenny showed an appreciation for the Slow8 conditions on offer to win by a neck, with three-and-a-quarter-lengths to Made My Point (Pins), who also presented in a fresh state and should prove more competitive when he strikes better ground.
The time for the Vernon & Vazey Truck Parts Rating 70 over 1200-metres was 1:12.31, with the winner returning $5.40 & $2.10.
While winning only once in his first campaign, Kilkenny did show himself to be above average when finishing second to the talented filly Obsession (Bachelor Duke), before a close fourth to Joey Massino (O’Reilly) in the competitive Karaka Mile, for three-year-olds eligible for the Karaka Million at two.
Yuill said, “He raced against some good horses last season and he’s come back good. We’ll just work him through the grades and I think he’ll run a nice mile.”
Rider Samantha Spratt was also encouraged by his performance, saying, “On the corner I was travelling huge and I was a bit worried they were going too slow as I was nearly clipping heels. Then he came out and fought really well. I thought he might come to the end of it, being his fresh-up run, but he fought on good and did as much as he had to. When he puts his mind to it he’s got all the ability in the world.”
After settling in seventh position on the inner in the China Taiping Insurance Maiden over 1400-metres, Chico appeared to travel sweetly for rider Jason Collett when six-lengths off the pace at the 600m, before sustaining a staying type finish in the stretch to win narrowly.
Across the track at the line, Chico got the decision by a nose from Buckles (Keeper), with a short-neck to Black Express (Black Minnaloushe) in third, and Cool Lady (Bachelor Duke) close in fourth.
The 1400-metres run in 1:27.52, Chico was heavily supported on the tote to pay $4.60 & $1.80.
Yves Sequin said, “As a three-year-old she showed some metal sometimes, but she was a little weak, physically and mentally. With age she has got better. Last season we tried to go for the Oaks and went 2000m a bit too soon and she was not ready for it. But, she looks good now and hopefully she will get better. We have to go step by step but with extra distance she will be a better mare at a mile, and 2000m afterwards.”
Chico is owned by G R & Mrs J Hines, Mrs G Hodgson, B W B Jensen, P C McVinnie, M C & P M Smith, while Kilkenny is owned by R Chan, R S Yang & R A Yuill, after Yuill purchased him out of the 2008 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale for $60,000.
Kilkenny is a half-brother to Lady Kipling (Savabeel), a smart recent winner at Te Rapa for the Baker stable she has now won two of her four starts, with a second and a third.
Jason Collett won the Jockey Challenge, with Chico one of his three winning mounts. Additional victories for the talented young rider came aboard Kahlua Kiss (4 B. G. Quorum - Fondarose, by Conquistarose), a smart debutante from the Verner stable, and Delegator (7 Blk. G. Kaapstad - Label Basher, by Conquistarose) for Ruakaka trainer Michelle Marshall.
Chico gets the better of a close finish