Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand Oaks at Trentham was the 10th and final leg of the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series, and it was expected to be a tie-breaker, but Sentimental Miss (NZ) (Reliable Man) had other ideas.
Imelda Mary (NZ) (Ferlax) and Queen of Diamonds (NZ) (Savabeel) had been strong performers through the Series, and going into the Oaks they shared the lead with 18 points each. But neither of them could add to that total with a top-three finish at Trentham.
Instead the Oaks was taken out by Sentimental Miss, who had 4 points to her name courtesy of a placing in the Group 2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic earlier in the season. With an outstanding performance in the Oaks, she moved up to 16 points and a third-place finish on the table.
Ridden by Lisa Allpress, Sentimental Miss sat just behind the leaders as the early part of the race was run at an energy-sapping pace.
When others began to tire approaching the home turn, Sentimental Miss quickened and sailed through a gap towards the inside. She was challenged by Beyond The Fort (NZ) (Niagara) and Star Karen (Camelot), but Sentimental Miss kept finding and kicked away from the other pair to win by a length and a quarter.
Sentimental Miss had shown ability throughout the season, winning a maiden race at Otaki, placing behind subsequent Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Crown Prosecutor (Medaglia d’Oro) in the Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m), and placing in the Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic.
But she was going into Saturday’s Oaks on the back of a disappointing ninth in the final lead-up, the Group 2 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2100m).
“It’s a fantastic result,” trainer Lisa Latta said. “We walked away from the Lowland thinking, ‘Should we press on to the Oaks?’
“We decided to try putting blinkers on today, and it’s made a huge difference. When she came through on the inside around the turn, I thought she was going well and she could run third or fourth and it would be a great performance. But she kept finding. She’s bred to stay and it was a fantastic performance today.”
Sentimental Miss was a $40,000 purchase from The Oaks Stud’s draft at the 2017 Select Sale at Karaka. Raced by a Go Racing syndicate, she has now had 11 starts for two wins, four placings and $273,625 in prizemoney.
“Group 1 races are the ultimate, the top level, this is what we do it for,” Go Racing manager Albert Bosma said. “This was actually the last horse we syndicated last year, it took us ages to get her fully syndicated. This is a great result for a wonderful group of owners.”
Vendor The Oaks Stud
Purchaser Go Racing (Auckland)
Breeding Reliable Man – Nostalgic
Sale Lot 901, 2017 Select Sale, $40,000
Bred by The Oaks Stud
In other news for the second time in less than an hour at Trentham on Saturday, graduates of New Zealand Bloodstock sales filled the first three placings in a black-type race.
First, the $100,000 Group 2 Norwood Family Wellington Guineas (1400m) produced a trifecta by Emily Margaret (NZ) (Pins), Vigor Winner (Declaration of War) and Dawn Patrol (NZ) (Dawn Approach).
Just 35 minutes later, the $50,000 Listed gavelhouse.com Lightning Handicap (1000m) was dominated by Volks Lightning (NZ) (Volksraad), Princess Kereru (NZ) (Pins) and the defending champion Ferrando (NZ) (Fast ‘n’ Famous).
Volks Lightning was a $60,000 purchase at the 2014 Ready to Run Sale. She had already proven her black-type quality, winning the Group 3 Sweynesse Stakes (1215m) and placing in a Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) and another four Group 3 races.
But she had often been plagued by bad luck, including a last-start fourth in the Group 3 Waikato Stud Plate (1200m) at Ellerslie after being blocked for most of the home straight.
Saturday was her day, sprinting out of midfield to challenge her front-running stablemate Ferrando in the straight. Waikato Stud Plate winner Princess Kereru went with them in a tight three-way finish, but Volks Lightning came out on top by a head.
“She deserved this, she’s been consistent all the way through in these Group and Listed races,” co-trainer Bailey Rogerson said. “It’s really good to get the win today.”
Volks Lightning is owned by the Vermair Volks Lightning Syndicate, managed by former Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum. She has now had 34 starts for six wins, 10 placings and $228,927 in prizemoney.
Runner-up Princess Kereru was passed in at the 2015 Select Sale with a reserve of $40,000. She has won six of her 24 starts and placed in another eight, earning $221,875.
Ferrando was bought for $40,000 at the 2015 Ready to Run Sale. He has had 25 starts for eight wins and five placings, with $262,019 in stakes.
Vendor Windsor Park Stud
Purchaser Vermair Racing (Christchurch)
Breeding Volksraad – Next Century
Sale Lot 75, 2014 Ready to Run Sale, $60,000
Bred by Windsor Park Stud Ltd
Among a star-studded line-up for Saturday’s Group 2 Norwood Family Wellington Guineas (1400m) at Trentham, Karaka graduates dominated the finish with a trifecta by Emily Margaret (NZ) (Pins), Vigor Winner (Declaration of War) and Dawn Patrol (NZ) (Dawn Approach).
South Island filly Emily Margaret, who cost $55,000 at the 2017 Select Sale, was already a dual stakes winner in the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) and Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) – the first two legs of the New Zealand Bloodstock South Island Filly of the Year Series.
On Saturday she ventured north and came out on top again, this time against the best of either sex and from both islands.
But this was a very different performance to her last-start win in the NZB Insurance Stakes, where she led all the way and the result never looked in doubt.
This time she dropped out to the back of the field and had to make a huge late run out wide, getting up to beat Vigor Winner by a half-head. Dawn Patrol was another short neck away in third.
“My gosh,” jockey Robert Hannam said. “The plan was not to go back today – it was the opposite of that. But I got squeezed back in the early stages. Plan A and B went out the window, and Plans D and E came into effect.
“I’d been through her form and I knew she’d won a race from the back once before, so I decided to sit back. I knew the outer part of the track would be better, so I waited and gave her one run at them out wide. She was so tough.”
Emily Margaret has now had 12 starts for four wins, five placings and $152,625 in stakes for owners Rodger and Emily Finlay.
Runner-up Vigor Winner was bought for $50,000 at the 2017 Ready to Run Sale. He has won two of his three starts, and today’s second placing lifted his earnings to $70,250.
Saturday’s third placegetter Dawn Patrol cost just $20,000 at the 2017 Select Sale. His five starts have produced two wins and three stakes placings, headed by a second in the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) in November. He has earned $127,575.
Emily Margaret is the clear leader in the South Island Filly of the Year Series with 14 points, and her next target is likely to be the third leg of that Series – the $50,000 Listed NZB Airfreight Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton on April 6.
“We want to win the South Island Filly of the Year Series,” co-trainer Kevin Hughes said. “We’ll try her over 1600 metres in the Airfreight Stakes.”
Vendor Trelawney Stud Ltd
Purchaser Mr RJ Finlay (Christchurch)
Breeding Pins – Secret Schillings
Sale Lot 1012, 2017 Select Sale, $55,000
Bred by Archer Equine Investments Ltd
Multiple stakes-winning Karaka graduate Sampson (NZ) (Dubai Destination) produced another top-class performance at Trentham on Saturday, winning the Listed Yealands Family Wines New Zealand St Leger (2600m) by eight and a quarter lengths.
Bought for just $20,000 at the 2011 Festival Sale, the nine-year-old is now the winner of four black-type races and $437,075 in prizemoney.
Ridden on Saturday by Johnathan Parkes, Sampson was in the back half of the field in the early part of the race but made a bold move forward to take the lead when the pace slowed down the back straight.
Sampson was utterly dominant from that point on, romping to victory by a huge margin as the Trentham crowd applauded.
“I wasn’t happy with the pace down the back of the straight, so I decided to just let him roll forward and he dominated the race from there,” Parkes said. “He was just too good today. I had to keep looking back to see how far I was in front by.”
Sampson is trained by Howie Mathews, whose wife Lorraine shares ownership with good friend Janice Street.
“It’s amazing,” Howie Mathews said. “We’re gobsmacked. We haven’t really had a winner as easy as that before. He’s a horse who’s close to our heart. He’s fantastic. He’s an everyday mate, he’s always there.”
Sampson’s previous stakes wins came in the Group 2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m) and Group 3 Trentham Stakes (2100m), both in 2017, as well as this year’s Listed Marton Cup (2200m).
Vendor Leanach Lodge Ltd
Purchaser Mr PE & Mrs N Izett (Palmerston North)
Breeding Dubai Destination – Magic Star
Sale Lot 1524, 2011 Festival Sale, $20,000
Bred by W Pegg