Despite the last-minute defection of Skew Wiff (Savabeel), New Zealand maintained a strong influence on Saturday’s A$300,000 Gr.2 Furphy Rose of Kingston Stakes (1400m) at Flemington thanks to a determined victory by Kiwi-bred mare Life Lessons (Tavistock x Brockman's Lass).
There had been plenty of pre-race attention centred around the Waikato Stud homebred Skew Wiff, who was a last-start winner of the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings and was being pointed towards next month’s A$10 million Golden Eagle (1500m). However, her race was over before it began on Saturday. She became fractious in the starting gates and was backed out before being late-scratched on vets’ advice.
But there was another quality New Zealand-bred mare waiting in the wings. Life Lessons had announced her arrival on the Group-racing stage with a last-start second behind boom mare Amelia’s Jewel in the Gr.2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) on September 16, and this time she went one better.
Ridden by Daniel Stackhouse, the five-year-old daughter of Tavistock settled in second place behind the pace-setting Starlight Scope.
Life Lessons pounced at the top of the Flemington straight and went to the lead. Multiple Group One winner Princess Grace loomed up alongside her and threatened to rush past, but Life Lessons kept digging in and held her out by a long neck. Another New Zealand-bred mare, Wrote To Arataki, was close up in third.
“My plan was to be in front of Princess Grace,” Stackhouse said. “I knew the turn of foot that my mare had, and I knew Princess Grace would fight hard if I had her in front of me.
“I always wanted to be positive on that tempo and I thought I was controlling the race for a while. She’s done a good job. She’s tough.
“I think she is mentally and physically more filled out now. She gave me a good feel the other day. I felt there was more improvement to come, and I think she showed that today.”
Trained by Peter Moody and Katherine Coleman for owner-breeders Ramsey Pastoral Pty Ltd, Life Lessons has now had 11 starts for four wins, three seconds and A$414,525 in prize-money.
“We’re thrilled with her,” Coleman said. “She’s come up well after that run behind Amelia’s Jewel, and she couldn’t have done much more that day. She’s maintained her condition. We brought her here thinking she’d run very well.
“She was good over summer last year. We tried to give her a short freshen-up and then have her up for the autumn and it just didn’t work out. She just needed a good break, which she’s had. She’s come back stronger and she’s a mare in form. If we can keep her happy, we’ll be in for a very good prep.”
Moody and Coleman could even consider a shot at the Gr.1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 4.
“The way she was finishing that race off there, I wouldn’t be saying no,” Coleman said.
The 46th individual stakes winner for former Cambridge Stud stallion Tavistock, Life Lessons is one of three winners from six foals to race out of the Group Three-winning mare Brockman’s Lass. The Encosta De Lago mare slipped a foal by Preferment the following year and has subsequently returned to Australia, where she produced an Invader filly in 2020