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Innovation tops off a great season for The Oaks

Innovation (Keeper [AUS]-Miss Grosvenor), the winner of the listed Wealleans Tauranga Classic, is the fourth female to carry the famous Oaks blue and white colours to black type victory this season.

She joins the group one New Zealand Oaks winner Artistic (Darci Brahma- Artless [AUS]), her runner-up, the group two Cambridge Stud Fillies Classic Zurella (Zabeel-Doneze Girl), and Single Minded who won the group two City of Auckland Cup and the Avondale Cup as stakes winners this season.

Like Artistic and Zurella, but from the stable of Ralph Manning, Innovation was heading for the New Zealand Oaks in March but jarred up after getting knocked down at the start in the Desert Gold Stakes. She bounced back from that to run a good fourth in the Oaks Prelude at Taranaki but jarred up again in Artistic's listed Sunline Vase.

"We backed off her a little bit after that and then when the tracks eased raced her again. She won at Ellerslie, then she went to Wanganui and won, then won at Ellerslie again. It was a big step up for her to take on weight-for-age at this stage but she was rock solid fit and won accordingly," said The Oaks General Manager Rick Williams.

It comes as no surprise to Williams that this filly has achieved black type status and is shaping into a smart racehorse.

"I have a lot of time for her mother Miss Grosvenor (Grosvenor – Helen). She has left some nice horses, but things haven't always gone the way they should have for them.
She is from a very good family and it's not a surprise that she would throw up a good horse," he added.

Miss Grosvenor is the seventh foal of the Noble Bijou (USA) mare Helen, and is a daughter of the smart two-year-old stakes winner Helen of Troy (Sovereign Edition[IRE]-Hellespont II [GB]). She in turn is the dam also of the group two VRC Wakeful Stakes winner Calera, the dam of the Caulfield Cup winner Imposera (Imposing) and her brother the AJC Spring Champion Stakes winner and successful sire Imprimatur, and Calaboose, a stakes winner of 15 races.

In more recent years, Helen of Troy has popped up as the third dam of the New Zealand Derby winner Wahid (Almutawakel [GB]-Rory's Helen) and All The Chat (Westminster- Rory's Helen).

"Miss Grosvenor was a mare Dick (Karreman) raced in Australia from Bevan Laming's stable, and she won one race over 1600 metres. Injury interfered with her racing career and when Dick bought The Oaks I ended up with her over here.

"It was a family I liked and I was quite happy to have her."

"She had a couple of foals in Australia that did nothing and arrived here in foal to Testa Rossa (AUS), and that was Testamonial. Her next foal was Miss Faberge (Ustinov [AUS]) who won four races, followed by Ballybit (Spartacus [IRE]) who also won four.

"Fives'A Diamond (Traditionally[USA]) was next and he won two but then bled. Ballybit and Fives'A Diamond had both sold well as yearlings. She has now had five to the races for four winners.

"The next foal was Innovation and she has been to Keeper every year since, although she is not in foal at the moment. It's a lovely mating, not just because of the Danehill influence, but it has a good pattern, and a lot of good things in behind in the pedigree that I like.

"Her two-year-old sister has gone to Ralph Manning to be trained and the yearling colt is due to be broken in. We will keep the weanling full sister as, like Innovation, she doesn't have the best legs and we'll send the mare back to Keeper this season."

"There are similarities with this family and that of Seachange. Sometimes you just need to be patient, and wait for your luck to change. Just Cruisin – the dam of Seachange – was a little bit like Miss Grosvenor in that they had the family behind them but just needed the right mating and a bit of luck.

"Like Seachange we only kept Innovation because she would have been slaughtered at the sales with her crooked legs, and we know Ralph can manage horses that don't have the best legs. Sometimes you have to let nature take its course and give these horses a bit more time and you get results.

"I just had a feeling with her all the way along that she could produce the goods and every now and then you have to believe in your instinct. I am glad I did as she has topped off a great season for the farm."


- Michelle Saba