Terri Rae is destroying the notion that racing is a numbers game.
Rae, who prepares Wellington Cup favourite Bloodstream, is experiencing an extraordinary season. The Riccarton Park trainer is in 14th place on the premiership, despite having had just 10 individual runners this term.
She normally has a maximum of 12 horses in work and has only six at the moment.
But Rae has still managed 17 wins since August 1, from 43 runners, at a strike rate of 2.53. Almost 40 per cent of her runners this season have won and more than 55 per cent have finished either first or second.
Those are remarkable figures, bearing in mind that only three other stables in the top 20 have a strike rate of less than 6.
Of the others in the top 50, the best strike rate has been recorded by Cambridge's Chris Wood, who has won 10 races at a strike rate of 4.1.
Bloodstream began his race career with Wood and recorded two thirds from three starts for Wood, before being sent south "to win a maiden". "Chris always thought he would make the grade with a bit more time," Rae said. "But he was an immature horse and took a while to put it together." Bloodstream was not an immediate success in Canterbury and did not record his maiden win till last September, at his 11th attempt.
However, Rae and her partner, Christchurch lawyer Matt Shepherd, and three stable clients took a punt on the Duelled gelding and bought him after his eighth start.
Once he managed a win, over 1600m at Riccarton, Bloodstream found he enjoyed the experience and notched five on end, including a double at the New Zealand Cup meeting. His five-lengths win over 2500m on the last day of the meeting was the run that put the 3200m Wellington Cup on his programme. "The only hiccup is that we hadn't expected him to be carrying 58.5kg in the Wellington Cup," Rae said.
Rae and Shepherd paid $5000, sight unseen, for French Law - who was still a maiden after 27 starts - in 1999, when he was advertised for sale in the Friday Flash. He had run last at his previous start and arrived with a large scar on his hip. "We must have been mad," Rae said. He looked a challenge but had four wins and two seconds in 16 starts for Rae.
The Aussies have conquered Ellerslie and Trentham might come under siege this weekend. Three Australian horses will contest the feature races at Trentham on Saturday.
Victorian sprinter Odyssey Moon is fourth favourite for the $250,000 Telegraph and Sly Romance and Pop 'N' Scotch will tackle the $250,000 Wellington Cup (3200m).
Odyssey Moon, who was at $7.50 yesterday after drawing wide, has had just four wins from 21 attempts but won the group three Standish Stakes (1200m) at Flemington at his last start. He is contesting the Telegraph in a bid to boost his stud prospects and his trainer, Robert Smerdon, is a fine horseman.
Start Wondering and Perfect Fit shared favouritism for the Telegraph yesterday at $4, with First Serve at $6.20, while Luna Rossa had shortened to $9.20.
Sly Romance, who will be ridden by Jonathan Riddell, is the more fancied of the Wellington Cup contenders. Sly Romance is trained in Victoria by Kiwi-born Richard Laming, whose brother Shane won a Telegraph at Trentham as a jockey.
Volkstok'n'barrell will run in the Thorndon Mile on Saturday week, weather permitting. "He'll be going to Trentham, but if the weather is shocking then he may go to Counties instead," said his co-trainer Donna Logan.
- NZ Racing Desk