Racing: Wilma's Mate caps faultless Australian campaign

By Michael Guerin

Wilma's Mate. Photo / Greg Bowker
Wilma's Mate. Photo / Greg Bowker

Paul Nairn feels he and Wilma's Mate may have lost some battles but ultimately won the war.

The exciting filly ended her three-year-old season on a high, outstaying a brave High Gait in the Breeders Crown three-year-old trot at Melton on Sunday.

That capped a faultless Australian campaign in which Wilma's Mate also won a thrilling Victoria Derby over High Gait, a case of some late season revenge.

While Wilma's Mate won the NZ Oaks, Sales Series and was second in the Jewels, she lost out for NZ filly of the year to High Gait.

Part of the reason was High Gait's win in last season's Breeders Crown was part of her body of work for her three-year-old season as it came after the awards were handed out last season.

And in the Derbys in NZ, High Gait was more consistent than Wilma's Mate, who seemed to be having an argument with her body which saw her wayward under pressure at times.

Nairn managed those problems expertly and Wilma's Mate looked to be at her soundest at the back end of the season, so turns four with an impressive resume.

And the always positive Nairn was happy with the outcome of her sometimes rollercoaster season.

"I suppose you could take the attitude if the voting for the filly of the year back home was a month later she might win it now," smiled Nairn.

"But then again, a few people over here have been saying to me she might win Australian three-year-old trotter of the year, or at least the filly award.

"High Gait is a wonderful filly too so if we both get a trotting filly of the year title that works out pretty well."

Wilma's Mate had to be good to win on Sunday as she settled back while High Gait raced to the lead and with his arch rival controlling the race, driver David Butt had little choice but to go forward and sit parked from the bell.

That set up a great home stretch battle which Wilma's Mate won by a neck, High Gait typically making her work for it every inch of the way.

The win was also a triumph for Butt in sending Wilma's Mate to Nairn to sort out, an unselfish decision which sets up her broodmare career for owner Richard Cornelius.

What will be fascinating is whether Wilma's Mate can make the leap from age group star to open class force, one many good fillies before her have struggled with.

She will have few mares or four-year-old options next season so may have to dip her hooves in the big time at some stage.

But her recent form, including her massive Addington win before her Australian trip, suggests maybe she has the motor to be an open class mare one day.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 23 Oct 2016 13:39:16 Processing Time: 569ms