Hastings-trained Wicket Maiden earned a start in the Group 1 $225,000 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes at Awapuni tomorrow week with a decisive win in a $30,000 2-year-old race at Trentham last Saturday.
The Power filly, prepared by John Bary, scored by 1-1/2 lengths over 1200m and will now take on the cream of New Zealand's youngsters over 1400m.
Bary has already achieved success in the Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes, which is one of only two Group 1 races for 2-year-olds in the country. He saddled up the ill-fated Recite to take out the feature in 2013.
Wicket Maiden chalked up her second win from only three starts last Saturday and both have been on the Trentham track. She won her debut over 1000m there in January before finishing sixth in the Group 2 Matamata Breeders' Stakes (1200m) last month.
Nothing went right for the filly at Matamata. She missed the start slightly and then got caught three-wide and wasn't that happy in the slow track conditions.
Everything worked out perfectly for her at Trentham last Saturday, although she did tend to want to over-race in the early stages. Jockey Johnathan Parkes managed to get her in a trailing position from the number one barrier and got a charmed rails run when Boomer Hill, on her outside, made the junction awkwardly and carried most of the field out wide.
Wicket Maiden accelerated through on the inside to put a break on the field and maintained a strong gallop to the line to easily beat Amosia and Sacred Command.
Bary said he initially thought about sending Wicket Maiden straight into the Manawatu Sires' Produce after her Matamata run but said she did so well after that run that he needed to give her another race.
"John said, if she finished in the first three at Trentham, she would go on to the Sires' Produce and to win like she did she would have to have a crack at it now," Bary's racing manager Mike Sanders said this week.
Bary's problem now is to find a suitable rider for the filly. She will carry just 54.5kg at Awapuni, a weight that is normally too light for the very tall Johnathan Parkes.
"I have given him (Parkes) the first option but if he can't make the weight I'll have to find someone else," Bary said this week.
Wicket Maiden is bred to be good, being out of the Fast 'N' Famous mare Scarlet O'Hara, who was the winner of six races and is a daughter of the three-race winning mare Southern Belle.
Wicket Maiden was bred by Havelock North property developer Jonathan Wallace, who races the filly in partnership with Palmerston North's Gerard Gillespie.
The two certainly had a weekend to remember as they also won a race at Woodville the following day with a 3-year-old older half-brother to Wicket Maiden called Second Slip.
The Alamosa gelding scored a short head victory in a Rating 65 race over 1200m, his second win from 12 starts.
Second Slip is trained at Palmerston North by Kevin Gray and, coincidentally, was also ridden to victory by Johnathan Parkes.
Trainer John Bary had a mixed day at Trentham last Saturday. He picked up a win with Wicket Maiden but had no luck with the other three horses he took there in Heart Of Stone, Callsign Mav and On Show.
Heart Of Stone was a late scratching from the Listed Lightning Stakes (1200m) after becoming caught up in the barrier before the start. The 4-year-old mare suffered swelling in the stifle area and lacerations to her hindquarters and has now been turned out for a spell.
Callsign Mav has also been turned out for a winter spell after finishing fifth in the Group 2 Wellington Guineas (1400m). He trailed the leader until the home turn but then received a lot of buffeting from other horses in the home straight.
On Show finished fifth in a Rating 65 race over 1400m, with Bary saying she raced a bit handier than was intended and probably found 1400m on the big Trentham track a bit too testing.
He said she will be brought back to 1200m for her next start, which is likely to be in a 3-year-old race at Awapuni tomorrow week.
Bassett chalks up her fifth win
Hastings apprentice Jordan Bassett brought up the fifth win of her career when steering Magic Incanto to an easy win in a Rating 72 race over 1400m at Woodville last Sunday.
Bassett, 29, was chalking up first win for the season but has not had many opportunities with it being only her 24th race-ride since August and only her 91st since she started out five years ago.
A regular at Hastings trackwork sessions, Bassett spent a good part of last year sidelined with a foot injury that required an operation.
Originally attached to the stable of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen, she is now apprenticed to her partner Richard McKenzie.
Magic Incanto is trained on the Hastings track by Fred Pratt and was recording her third win from 21 starts for her owners, a group of butchers' wives from the Central Districts area.
The Per Incanto mare missed the start by a couple of lengths at Woodville and was last on settling down. However, she quickly raced around the field to take a clear lead starting the last 1000m.
Bassett then managed to give the mare a breather before kicking her clear again rounding the home turn.
Magic Incanto quickly established a winning break, with Bassett taking a quick look behind early in the home straight to see how far behind the opposition was.
At the line they were three lengths clear of second placed Master Pet, with La Bella Rosa a long neck back in third.
Another success for brothers
Waipukurau brothers Bill and Murray Rose picked up their second win in the space of a fortnight when Sola Power led all the way to score in a maiden 1400m race at Woodville last Sunday.
The pair broke a long drought from the winner's circle when Happy Tav took out a Rating 65 race over 1400m at Awapuni on February 28 and Sola Power is that horse's year younger half-brother. Both horses are prepared by Palmerston North trainer Kevin Gray.
Sola Power only had three rivals at Woodville last Sunday and rider Lisa Allpress bounced the 3-year-old Power gelding straight to the front.
Allpress then dictated a leisurely pace before quickening coming to the home turn and Sola Power clearly had his rivals under pressure when he straightened up for the run to the line. He kept up a strong gallop to score by 3-1/4 lengths.
Bill and Murray Rose bred both Sola Power and Happy Tav out of the O'Reilly mare A'Guin Ace.
Jennifer Eccles was amazing
Jennifer Eccles achieved Group 1 status and cemented her position as the New Zealand Bloodstock Three-year-old Filly of the Year with another amazing winning performance in last Saturday's $400,000 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham.
Aided by a masterful ride from Jason Waddell, the daughter of Rip Van Winkle cruised to a 1-1/2 length victory in the 2400m feature to bring up her fourth success from 12 starts and take her stake earnings to just short of $500,000.
It is a huge return from a filly that cost bloodstock agent Adrian Clark only $5000 as a weanling at a 2017 Karaka mixed bloodstock sale.
Clark then set up the Challenge No. 10 Syndicate that now owns the filly with four of the members being Napier couple Brian and Lorraine Henneker and Taupō-based Allan and Judy Payne.
Jennifer Eccles drew the extreme outside in the 18-horse field last Saturday, but Waddell was able to get her across to be one off the fence with a round to go and then onto the rails soon after.
From there he was able to give the filly an economical run and, but for a scare just before the home turn, they always had the race in control.
Waddell later blamed himself for a mistake, that could have had disastrous consequences, when he tried to get off the fence coming to the home turn. Jennifer Eccles clipped a heel of a horse in front and dipped badly, with Waddell fortunate to stay in the saddle.
After such a blunder a horse usually loses valuable momentum and takes several strides to get back into full stride. But Waddell said Jennifer Eccles hardly faltered at all, coming back up under him in a matter of seconds before angling into the clear and accelerating away from the opposition with an incredible turn of foot.
Waddell even afforded himself time to ease the filly down close to the line such was the dominance of her win.
Jennifer Eccles was a runaway winner of the NZ Bloodstock Filly of the Year series, racking up a total of 44.5 points. She finished 22 points ahead of second placed Loire.
Glory Days retired to stud
The racing career of Group One winner Glory Days has come to an end.
The daughter of Red Giant won 10 of her 32 starts and gave trainer Bill Thurlow some of his biggest moments in racing.
Glory Days had a standout 2018-19 season, recording seven wins, including the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) and placing in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m).
"She has been brilliant," Thurlow said. "She has done everything we have asked of her. She is just feeling the effects of it I think and it's just time to let her be a broodmare."
"Last season was a big highlight. Everything she did was brilliant. Winning the Avondale Cup and Auckland Cup, and even the Waverley and Wanganui Cups, it was great.
"It was very satisfying to get my first Group 1 with her in the Auckland Cup and she was super in the Sydney Cup. She went a huge race from well back in the field."