Former New Zealand-trained filly Matchmaker added some all-important Australian black-type when coming with a well-timed run under James McDonald to land the Gr.3 PJ Bell Stakes (1200m) on the opening day of The Championships at Randwick on Saturday.
The daughter of Makfi crossed the Tasman as the winner of two races, including the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) for trainers Nick Wigley and Kayla Milnes.
Now in the care of Chris Waller, the filly is part-owned by Indian-born Sydneysider Manoj Wanzare.
Working with Australia-based Kiwi bloodstock agent Andrew Williams, Wanzare was able to negotiate a deal that saw him take a half-share in Matchmaker with her breeders Gus and Bianca Wigley of Inglewood Stud.
Matchmaker coped well with the Soft7 conditions of the Randwick track on Saturday in what was her first win in three starts across the Tasman and her eighth lifetime start.
“She’s from the South Island in New Zealand, she did a good job over there winning her first start and running in some nice races, picking up some black type,” Waller said.
“Now to come to the big stage here at Royal Randwick and winning on Doncaster day, it’s pretty special.
“The confidence she’ll take out of it is good and naturally you’d expect her to get out over a little bit further as well. I think she’ll be a nice four-year-old.”
The win capped a memorable day for jockey James McDonald, who rode a treble with the PJ Bell victory coming after Group One wins aboard Anamoe and Nature Strip to advance McDonald’s Group One tally to 51.
McDonald became the fastest jockey to pass the half century of Group One wins, with 11 in New Zealand, 1 in Hong Kong and 39 in Australia.
“She was a bit of a handful in the parade ring. Hopefully she gets better with a bit more maturity and as she gets along in her preparation. She is a lovely mare who handles the wet ground really well,” McDonald said.
“I am so lucky and so blessed to ride every horse I swing my leg over. You have to pinch yourself sometimes. They are beautiful horses who are highly talented. It’s very special and I’m very lucky.”
The Group Three victory for Matchmaker was a timely one, with her yearling half-sister by Savile Row out of the Fastnet Rock mare Love Somebody set to be auctioned at next week’s South Island Sale, which is conducted on Gavelhouse Plus online.
Love Somebody has a two-year-old colt by Zacinto and a weanling colt by War Decree and was covered by Inglewood Stud’s resident sire War Decree again last spring. – NZ Racing Desk