In a race affected by the late scratching of pre-post favourite Desert Lightning due to the downgrade of the track to a Heavy 10 earlier in the day, it was consistent filly Cheval D’Or who mastered the testing conditions to take out the Gr.3 Trelawney Stud Championship Stakes (2100m) at Pukekohe.
The half-sister to multiple Group One winning sprinter Bostonian, who had finished in the first four in all of her previous five starts without notching up a win, came in for some inspired late support to start as the $3.40 race favourite ahead of Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) winner Arby.
Rider Michael McNab had earlier taken out the two-year-old feature, the Listed Staphanos At Novara Park Champagne Stakes (1600m) aboard Loch Katrine and had been enthusiastic about his chances after discussing pre-race tactics with trainer Tony Pike.
“She travelled really well although I didn’t really know what to expect from her,” McNab said.
“When Tony gave me the colours I asked him what he thought and he said he thought she would love it (the wet track).
“He wasn’t wrong as the whole way she just travelled beautifully.
“She probably wasn’t as effective the last 400m, but getting through the track makes her effective as the way she was able to conserve energy on that sort of track is very good.
“I think she is one of our better three-year-olds and you will see that at the latter end of the season as she is going the right way.”
Pike was also full of praise for the daughter of Almanzor who he purchased for The Oaks Stud boss Dick Karreman for $420,000 out of the Waikato Stud draft during the Book 1 Yearling Sale at Karaka in 2021.
“She has been in great form throughout this preparation and deserved that win today,” Pike said.
“She is a half-sister to Bostonian and he got through this type of track, so we were crossing our fingers a little, but she has done it well and is a good, staying filly.”
Pike advised he has bigger things earmarked for his charge who looks likely to contest some of the feature three-year-old filly races during the upcoming Brisbane Winter carnival.
“We’ve been over in Brisbane a few times when conditions haven’t been ideal so it’s nice to know you can cop a track like that,” he said.
“She has form on good ground so is very versatile and as long as she pulls up well there is no reason why we won’t go.
“She has been a little unlucky not to win a race before today and as a slow-maturing filly she is now starting to put things together.
“It is six weeks until the Queensland Oaks (Gr.1, 2200m) so we might consider running her in The Roses (Gr.2, 2000m) first but that will be determined by how she pulls up today.”
Cheval D’Or becomes the eighth individual stakes winner for Cambridge Stud stallion Almanzor who will stand his sixth southern hemisphere season at the famed Cambridge nursery later in 2023. – NZ Racing Desk