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Third Group One for Seachange

In the wake of heated controversy about the 2006 Mercedes Champion Three-Year-Old award, it was some relief that yesterday's big race at Hastings was decided in the best possible way, by two wonderful horses who offered neither excuse nor quarter to each other.

The $150,000 Horlicks Challenge S. 1600m G1, sponsored by Stoney Bridge, Karaka, matched all expectations, with last season's 1000 and 2000 Guineas winners, Seachange (Cape Cross) and Darci Brahma (Danehill), lining up in the straight for a thrilling battle. Both horses fought with admirable courage and resolve, but it was the mare who finally prevailed by a short head, less than the length which separated her from Darci Brahma in the Challenge S. G1 three weeks ago, but not much less convincing.



New Zealand's rising star SEACHANGE (left) and her sire CAPE CROSS.
PHOTOS: Race Images/NZ Thoroughbred Marketing & Darley UK

Seachange is now the clear favourite for the final leg of the Hawke's Bay Spring Triple Crown, New Zealand's only million-dollar race, the Kelt Capital-sponsored Ormond Memorial 2000m G1 on 7 October. Darci Brahma is likely to contest the MRC Toorak H. G1 in Melbourne a week later. Hurrah (Woodborough), named South Island Horse of the Year on Friday evening, powered home for third from the back of the field, indicating that another 400 metres will not find him wanting. Seachange is raced by her breeder, NZTBA member Dick Karreman, the Queensland owner of The Oaks Stud, near Cambridge, and she is trained for him by Ralph Manning. Gavin McKeon once again rode the mare perfectly. We can only imagine Mr Karreman's emotions during the final 100 metres of the race: he's also a part-owner of Darci Brahma.

The Darley-owned Cape Cross stood four seasons at Cambridge Stud from 2000 to 2003, producing 311 live foals, the youngest of which are now two-year-olds. His fee was initially $15,000 but was reduced to $12,000 in 2002 and $10,000 a year later. After achieving stunning success with his first European crop, which included European Horse of the Year Ouija Board, Cape Cross did not shuttle in 2004. He has since returned south, to Darley Australia where he stands at a fee of $A40,000. His 2006 fee at Kildangan Stud, Ireland was €50,000.

- Susan Archer


 

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