Weight of expectation didn't faze Racha Cuneen, who successfully rose to the biggest challenge of his career at Riccarton yesterday.
The 24-year-old was entrusted with the ride on the Group1 NZ 1000 Guineas favourite La Diosa and he repaid the confidence shown in him with a faultless display to guide the southern filly to victory.
"She's an amazing filly and I'm very grateful to be given the opportunity by Mandy and Matt Brown and the connections," Cuneen said.
He had ridden La Diosa in her three previous starts, including Listed wins in the Canterbury Belle Stakes and the Barneswood Farm Stakes and he gave another polished display aboard the daughter of the New Zealand-bred multiple Group 1 winner So You Think.
La Diosa settled in the final pairing in the 1600m feature before she scouted wide near the turn before finishing relentlessly for the fourth win of her six-start career.
"The plan was always to get back and run over the top of them," Cuneen said. "We hit the front early and she got a bit lost, but all credit to the filly - she's a great horse."
La Diosa then unceremoniously dumped Cuneen after the winning post.
"You have to take the highs and lows," he quipped.
The filly not only provided Cuneen with his first Group 1 winner, but also her Canterbury trainers who weren't altogether sure how La Diosa would cope with the Dead (4) track.
"We didn't know how she would handle it," Matt Brown said. "She had to be good to win and she is very good, she likes to get back and relax.
"Racha hasn't done anything wrong on her and he rode her brilliantly."
La Diosa won by 1 lengths from northern filly Bella Gioia with Sweepstake third ahead of Midnight Gossip.
- NZ Racing Desk.