New Zealand-trained three-year-old Prowess demolished her rivals when winning the Gr.1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
The Roger James and Robert Wellwood-trained daughter of Proisir has been in imperious form in her homeland and that form more than translated when crossing the Tasman Sea.
With Mark Zahra in the saddle, Prowess was sent out a $2.15 favourite with Gr.1 VRC Oaks runner-up Pavitra ($3.40) considered her only genuine rival.
However, Prowess made the Vinery Stud Stakes a one-act affair, unleashing a powerful turn of foot to race clear and beat Pavitra by 3-1/4 lengths with Fireburn ($11) another three-quarters of a length back third.
“I’ve thought it for a long time that she could be the best I’ve trained,” an emotional Roger James said.
“She is a superstar this filly. She is bloody good. She is an absolute gem. I’ve been the strapper this week, I was here before she was.
“I have travelled a lot of horses to Australia and not many settle in like she did and it’s her first trip away so she’s only going to get better. She is a star in the making.”
The beaten brigade will be thanking their lucky stars that James and Wellwood are calling time on Prowess’ campaign, opting for a flight home to New Zealand rather than progressing to the Gr.1 Australian Oaks (2400m) in a fortnight.
“She goes home in the morning,” James said. “The world is her oyster. Without being silly, there is a lot of money to be had as an older horse in Australia and she’s had quite a big season.
“She’s been to the South Island and back, she is still learning her game too. We’ll get home and enjoy what we’ve just seen now and we can make plans from there.”
Respected horseman James rates the dual Group One winner right up with the best he has trained.
“She does things that I haven’t had another horse be able to do and I’ve been very blessed,” James said.
“I’ve had Zonda, who was always the benchmark, Silent Achiever, I’ve had some lovely horses over the years. I’ve won this race with Sixty Seconds, but this filly does special things.
“She is pretty versatile, she’s capable from 1400m to 2000m and I truly don’t believe she’s a mile-and-a-half horse. We took her out of the New Zealand Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) when she was vying for favouritism for it and she does hold a nomination for the Oaks. But she also holds a slot on the plane tomorrow and that will be the one she takes.”
Perhaps the greatest compliment came from Chad Schofield, the rider of beaten rival Pavitra, a class act in her own right.
“My filly ran well. Our race went to plan,” Schofield said. “Full credit to the winner. We got beaten by an absolute weapon.”
James and Wellwood went to $230,000 to purchase Prowess out of Hallmark Stud’s 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale draft on behalf of owner Dean Skipper.
One of five individual Group One winners this season for the remarkable stallion Proisir, Prowess was bred by the Baker family of Hallmark Stud and is out of the Don Eduardo mare Donna Marie, who is also the dam of the stakes performer Ajay Tee (by Foxwedge).
“Prowess was a beautiful foal and she went the right way and continued to grow and develop as you would hope,” Mark Baker recalled.
“To be fair, she was probably a Book 2 page at the time. Proisir hadn’t quite hit his straps, but New Zealand Bloodstock could see what was there physically and put her in Book 1 where she deserved to be on her physical makeup, and she made money accordingly.
“She was the dearest Proisir at the time at $230,000.
“She had terrific size and scope as a yearling. She was all quality and a great mover and had a great attitude.”
Donna Marie has since returned to Proisir and the Bakers are over the moon with her filly foal.
“We still own her mother and have a lovely full-sister at foot, and she is back in-foal to Proisir,” Baker said. – NZ Racing Desk