Te Aroha trainer Ian Marks was only half-joking with his “that much closer to a Ferrari” comment on Trackside TV at Rotorua last Saturday.
Marks had just witnessed his smart galloper Tutta La Classe charge past her rivals for victory in the Rating 65 NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race, her second win from three recent starts in filly and mare races carrying the lucrative bonus payment.
Six weeks earlier the Per Incanto four-year-old had won a similar midweek race at Te Rapa, while her winning brace bracketed an unplaced performance in a Pukekohe bonus race. Having now risen to a rating of 68, the bonus pickings are that much more difficult to find, but Marks would leap at any similar opportunity with his smart racemare.
“I’ve got only a small racing team and she’s the only female amongst them, but these Pearl bonus races are brilliant,” Marks said as he reflected on Tutta La Classe’s run of form. “The stake for first at Te Rapa was only $6,250, but add the $11,000 bonus and it’s a fantastic sort of race to win at an Industry meeting.
“Then at Rotorua it was a winning stake of $14,000, plus it had a $20,000 bonus. It’s such a good series to be in – on top of her actual stakes she’s now won $31,000 in bonuses over the last few weeks!”
Hence the Ferrari quip to Trackside interviewer Brendan Popplewell. “Yes, I was joking – I think that no matter what, a Ferrari is probably out of my league,” says Marks. “But I mentioned that only because of how much you can with the bonuses thrown in.”
Marks races Tutta La Classe in a partnership that includes her co-breeder, Taranaki businessman and hobbyist Chris Thompson, also a shareholder in the two other proven members of the Marks string, Seconds Out and No Loitering, who between them have won 13 races.
Thompson was in the news a couple of years ago as the bargain purchaser of the Generous mare Double Elle, who went on to make headlines as the dam of champion three-year-old Gingernuts. Like Marks, Thompson is a keen supporter of the Pearl Series, having bred Tutta La Classe in partnership with his wife Lencie and nominating her as a yearling for the scheme.
When originally trained by Allan Sharrock, Tutta La Classe was stakes-placed twice as a late two- and early three-year-old as well as placing three times in Pearl Series Races.
While Tutta La Classe is currently the only active female member of the Marks team, there are more in the wings. “I bought a Rock ’N’ Pop filly last year on Gavelhouse and I really like her,” he added. “She’s a lovely filly, just coming along nice and slow and she should be up to trialling in another month.
“Naturally I entered her in the Pearl Series – and why wouldn’t you? That Pearl race we won at Te Rapa, there were only five starters and Tutta La Classe was the only one of them that was Pearl eligible.
“It’s hard to figure out why there aren’t more enrolled – and if there are, why more trainers don’t target the bonus races.” -NZTBA