Heavily backed $2.50 favourite Wolverine carried her many supporters to victory with a stunning performance to take out the Gr.2 Hiddenbed Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Te Rapa.
The Royden Bergerson-trained daughter of Tivaci had looked an exciting prospect when winning her debut at Otaki last month, albeit against just three opponents.
Despite having to make the trip north from her Awapuni base due to the rescheduling of the race after the Trentham meeting was abandoned a week ago, the two-year-old filly took it all in her stride as she put on a clinical display, courtesy of a heady ride from Danielle Johnson.
Johnson bounced Wolverine away nicely from an outside barrier, before taking a sit in midfield as Gibraltar Rising set up a solid pace out in front.
Gibraltar Rising had the field strung out turning for home, however Johnson had Wolverine in the clear and winding up nicely as she dashed to the front at the 150m before easing away for a length and a half victory over the late closing pair of Taviarma and Andalus.
Bergerson indicated he had received a good omen from Wellington Racing Club General Manager of Racing Kim Treweek before the race, which increased his confidence of a victory.
“Kim Treweek gave me the trophy and rug to bring through and I told him we might as well leave it in Palmerston North for us,” Bergerson said.
“She’s a good filly and it is great to win for a good syndicate and to have Australian Bloodstock on board.”
Purchased by Bergerson and Chris Rutten for $50,000 out of the Waikato Stud draft during the Book 1 sale at Karaka earlier this year, Wolverine had a 50 percent holding in her sold to Australian Bloodstock following her debut performance, with Bergerson and Rutten remaining involved in her.
Bergerson had been clear during the week that the main target for the filly is the $1million Doubletree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and reiterated that again after her victory.
“She will go home to the paddock for a few days now and then we will bring her back for the last day at Ellerslie (Gr.2 Eclipse Stakes, 1200m) and then she will stay up here for the Karaka Million,” Bergerson said.
Johnson, who took the mount when original rider Lisa Allpress didn’t make the trip north due to commitments at the Awapuni meeting on Saturday, was suitably impressed by the Tivaci filly’s effort.
“She certainly has some ability there,” Johnson said.
“On the feel she gave me today she is not a natural two-year-old, so she is just going to keep on progressing from here and get better and better.
“I was fortunate enough that I could get back on the fence and then peel off at the corner, but she is just so professional, it is a credit to her team back at home.
“She is now a stakes winner at two so what more can you ask for.”
Out of the O’Reilly mare Knew It, Wolverine becomes the second individual stakes winner for her Waikato Stud based sire Tivaci.
TAB bookmakers reacted by installing the filly as the clear $3.50 favourite for the Karaka Million 2YO which will be held at Ellerslie on January 22.
Her ownership group will be looking for history to repeat with Karaka Million 2YO success as Australian Bloodstock owned 2012 winner Ockham’s Razor while Rutten purchased and co-owned 2014 winner Vespa, who now stands at Valachi Downs Stud in Matamata.
Rutten was also involved in the purchase and ownership of placegetters Touche (2013), Kingsman (2016), Yourdeel (2019) and Avonallo (2021) while he also purchased and co-owned 2018 Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) winner Scott Base. – NZ Racing Desk