A year on from Pier’s heroics in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), his older half-sister Maria Farina (NZ) (Contributer) has picked up a feature win of her own during the New Zealand Cup Carnival at Riccarton.
A last-gasp victory in Saturday’s $140,000 Listed Lindauer Stewards’ Stakes (1200m) was the sixth win of a 23-start career for the valuable Contributer mare, who also won the Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) at Trentham in March.
That Lightning win came on a one-week back-up from a fast-finishing fourth at Pukekohe the previous Saturday, and the same formula delivered a second piece of black-type gold this week. Maria Farina lined up in the Listed Pegasus Stakes (1000m) on the opening day of the carnival last weekend and finished fifth, recording the fastest times in the race for her last 600m, 400m and 200m.
The six-year-old was even better in Saturday’s Stewards’ Stakes. Ridden by Matt Cameron, Maria Farina was fourth-last at the top of the straight but launched a withering run out of the pack.
She got there in the nick of time, thrusting her head in front of Imwonderfultonight right on the finish line to win by a nose.
Like her half-brother Pier, Maria Farina is trained by Darryn and Briar Weatherley. The Matamata family also co-bred and part-owns both of the siblings, who are out of the Darci Brahma mare La Vitesse.
“This is a big thrill, and especially after what Pier did down here last year,” Darryn Weatherley said. “It’s quite a special double. We’re very lucky to have the breed.
“It was a great performance by Maria Farina today. She always seems to do it the hard way, but a lot of that has been down to drawing wide and having to drop back because of that.
“The way it worked out, her wide draw today didn’t turn out to be quite such a disadvantage, with the ground being a bit worse towards the inside. But she finished it off really strongly again and it was a fantastic win.
“We’ll get her home now and make a plan for the rest of the season. We’ll probably look at the big sprints like the Telegraph (Gr.1, 1200m), but the step up to 1400m for the Westbury Classic (Gr.2) against the fillies and mares on Karaka Million night could also be a bit of a carrot.”
Maria Farina’s win capped an excellent day for the Weatherleys, who also saddled Tulsi for a gallant third in the Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m).
“Tulsi ran a top race,” Weatherley said. “She had to do a lot of work from her gate, but she tried so hard. We’re really proud of her.”