New Zealand glory on Melbourne Cup day came from the most unlikely of sources when Skew Wiff won a race her connections really didn’t want her to run.
The Matamata mare made the most of a beautiful Opie Bosson ride to win the A$200,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes over 1400m, the first New Zealand-trained success of Cup week.
While expat New Zealand trainer Chris Waller finished second and third in the Melbourne Cup and a Kiwi couple now based in Australia in Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young had a training double, Skew Wiff becomes a rare New Zealand-trained horse to win over Cup week in recent years.
She is trained by Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson and has been based at their new Cranbourne complex for the past six weeks, but before yesterday, little had gone right during her campaign, which is why she was at Flemington in the first place.
Skew Wiff was originally down to start in the Rose Of Kingston Stakes on October 7 but was late scratched after playing up in the starting gates.
She then underwent a week of barrier-stall training.
All those dramas ended Skew Wiff’s chances of being in her connections’ dream race, the A$10 million Golden Eagle in Sydney last Saturday, so yesterday’s win comes as a consolation, albeit it a special one.
“The credit goes to Waikato Stud [owners] for taking the gamble of sending a horse like her, who can be tricky, to Australia in the first place,” Walker told the Herald.
“Then after she was late scratched, they stuck with the campaign and didn’t just bring her home, so they deserve this win.”
The stable has a bigger target to chase with another mare on Saturday when Imperatriz starts hot favourite in the A$3m Champions Sprint down Flemington straight.
“All reports are that she’s very well and ready to go but it will be another step up this week,” says Walker.
Bosson will ride Imperatriz on Saturday, therefore missing the first day of the New Zealand Cup carnival at Riccarton and the NZ 2000 Guineas.
Michael Guerin wrote his first nationally published racing articles while still in school and started writing about horse racing and the gambling industry for the Herald as a 20-year-old in 1990. He became the Herald’s Racing Editor in 1995 and covers the world’s biggest horse racing carnivals.