Local runner Alabama Gold broke his maiden status in emphatic fashion when he led from go to whoa to take out the Gr.3 Fairview Matamata Slipper (1200m) at Matamata on Saturday.
The speedy son of Windsor Park Stud stallion Turn Me Loose was coming off the back of an eye-catching late run for eighth in the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie last month, where a sluggish beginning and some home turn interference put paid to his winning chances.
This time rider Sam Weatherley bounced the showy chestnut colt away nicely to dispute the early pace with another Matamata local in Time Ruler before forging to a clear mid-race lead.
Weatherley had the Stephen Autridge and Kris Shailer-trained runner wound up with a full head of steam on the home bend and he raced away in the straight to win comfortably by over four lengths from race favourite Andalus and Zaher, who both closed off nicely in the final stages.
Autridge was delighted to see his charge get the win after his luckless effort at his last start.
“It was a very good effort as we had tried those tactics at his second start and they didn’t quite work as he was beaten into second,” he said.
“I thought his last start was an excellent run as he didn’t jump well and then got wiped out on the home corner.
“His sectionals on Karaka Million night were outstanding and Sam did say that he once he got the lead to himself, he relaxed nicely and did it easily in the end.
Alabama Gold was an $85,000 purchase out of Highline Thoroughbreds’ draft at Karaka last year and is from the speedy family of Vinaka, who won both the Gr.1 Railway (1200m) and the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m).
He is raced by Stan Painton, with Autridge hopeful the win will prove a tonic for his long-term owner who has not enjoyed good health in recent months.
“That was outstanding for Stan and I hope it is a good tonic for him as he hasn’t been doing that well of late and he is someone who just lives for his racing,” Autridge said.
“He never used to miss a meeting where he had a horse in, but since this COVID lockdown he hasn’t been well enough to attend, but I do know he will have definitely been shouting at the television.
“We’re not too sure what to do next with him, as in the back of our minds he was going out for a spell, but we may just leave that for a week and see how he comes through this race.
“The winners of this race have a very good record in the Group One at Ellerslie (Sistema Stakes, 1200m) in a fortnight so we might just have a change of plans if he thrives from this run.
“No matter what happens I think he is going to make a cracking three-year-old, so we are looking forward to that.”
From the second crop of multiple Group One winner Turn Me Loose, Alabama Gold becomes his sire’s second individual stakes winner and is one of five stakes performers for the young Iffraaj stallion.
Turn Me Loose will be represented by 27 individuals across the six days of the 2022 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale at Karaka that commences on Monday March 7. – NZ Racing Desk
WINNER: Alabama Gold (NZ) 2019
BREEDING: by Turn Me Loose out of Attalla by Volksraad (GB)
BREEDER: W E Jeffries
RACE: Matamata RC Slipper S. Gr.3 1200m