Progressive galloper Coventina Bay delighted her army of fans when taking out the Gr.3 Wentwood Grange Cuddle Stakes (1600m) on Saturday, but it was a close-run thing in the Trentham feature for the fillies and mares.
Sent out a $1.70 favourite for the contest, the Robbie Patterson-trained mare was shooting for back-to-back victories after scoring impressively over 1400m at Matamata last month.
Punters were well on terms with themselves throughout the running as regular pilot Sam Collett had Coventina Bay situated nicely three-back against the fence before angling into the clear to make her run at the 300m.
Just as the daughter of Shamexpress was expected to burst away from her rivals she was confronted by a stern challenge on her outer from outsider Jessiegee.
Collett asked Coventina Bay for a serious effort in the final 150m and she lifted nicely to hold out the charge by Jessiegee by a neck with pacemaker Mohaka clinging on gamely to take third.
Patterson admitted his charge had thrived since her last run and was carrying some excess weight as he prepares her for a tilt at the Gr.1 Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha on April 10.
“She was a bit fresh today as she was nine kilograms heavier than when she won last time,” he said.
“Her Melbourne Cup is the Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha, but I’m proud of her and she is just a little machine.
“She has had a lot of problems and they hurt her early on, but we’ve fixed them now and she’s good.”
Collett was never in any doubt she would secure the victory as she held complete faith in her charge.
“She just makes my life easy as the gas is always ready to go when you need it,” she said.
“I was mindful that there wasn’t much pace in the race and that I was going to have to ride her closer than she is normally ridden.
“I just didn’t want to give them a head-start and cop any backwash, but she did everything I asked and was tough to the line.
“She’s what you want in every horse as she is tough and just goes wherever you want her to go without second guessing you.”
Collett may now be faced with a tough decision on a mount in the Te Aroha Group One feature as she is also the regular rider on excitement machine Levante, who has won seven of her 10 starts and is also a potential candidate for the event.
The victory was Coventina Bay’s second in black-type company in her last three runs and she has now won eight of her 12 starts and over $173,000 in prizemoney. – NZ Racing Desk