Racing: Quintessential performance

By Mike Dillon

Kiwi filly powers through the sloppy conditions to take $500,000 feature

Damian Brown wins the Queensland Oaks on Quintessential. Photo / Courier Mail
Damian Brown wins the Queensland Oaks on Quintessential. Photo / Courier Mail

This was a New Zealand victory from start to finish.

Standing in the winner's stall at a rain-soaked Eagle Farm on Saturday after the A$400,000 ($514,000) Queensland Oaks, Quintessential was surrounded by a team of her country people.

As former New Zealander Damian Browne jumped off the filly's back after a brave ride in the conditions he was congratulated by Matamata trainer John Sargent, Christchurch owner Greg Tomlinson and watching on were a couple of former New Zealanders in Bruce Compton and wife Marina, who have been caring for the Sargent horses during a Queensland campaign.

Browne was delighted, Sargent was relieved and Tomlinson couldn't believe his luck.

Sargent believed the rain that tumbled down in Brisbane had buried the chances of Quintessential beating fellow New Zealanders Artistic and Post Restante.

"She was beaten 20 lengths in the Lowland on a wet track and we were very worried when it rained," admitted Sargent.

But when the others, including Artistic and Post Restante, were giving in over the final stages after staying handy, Quintessential powered through the sloppy conditions to take the classic.

Sargent confirmed that provided nothing goes amiss in the next 48 hours, Quintessential will back up in next week's Queensland Derby.

"There is no reason why she shouldn't run and she can have a good spell after that."

Former New Zealand filly Vittoria fought bravely for third.

Trainer Shaune Ritchie was philosophical about the effort of Artistic, who finished 10th.

"The conditions didn't help at all and that surprised me a little."

Howie Mathews echoed similar thoughts on Post Restante.

Ima Heroine was the best named horse on the jumping scene last winter.

The little 10-year-old mare approached the last part of the winter with a record of one win from 22 starts.

In successive races she won the hearts of race fans with remarkable victories in the Pakuranga Hunt Cup and the big one, the Great Northern Steeplechase.

Owner and trainer Ann Browne warns not to expect the same in today's $30,000 McGregor Grant Steeplechase at Ellerslie.

"She needs more distance, more rain and a little less weight (69kg).

"She's fit, but she came back into work in good condition and it's taking a little longer to get her race fit this time.

"She will definitely improve with the race."

Myths And Legends, Volkswagin and Ho Down, 1-2-3 in the Waikato Steeplechase, will each have a fitness advantage over Ima Heroine.

Myths And Legends appreciates tough going and the grind more than Volkswagin, which showed at Te Rapa, and he looks the horse to beat.

"I'm going to get some of the money in the maiden steeplechase," said Ann Browne.

That wasn't quite the bold statement it seems - the Cambridge horsewoman has Roberty Bob and Victor Ludorum entered in a six-horse field in which all runners will share in the stakemoney. The $30,000 Ken Browne Hurdles presents the most open race of the day.

One to watch is Man O' Mann who has not had a jumping start since the 2010 Great Northern Hurdles, in which he started the $3.10 favourite.

However, he won his only other two hurdling starts very impressively and Kevin Myers is bound to have him very fit for this.

In the flat races, Run To The Bank (Race 6) was last start narrowly beaten by a very smart type in Quickasucan on this track and deserves a turn.

In the last, Race 9, visitor Gold Cape was off the track at Te Rapa last start and can get some of this race.

- NZ Herald

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