Valachi quinella in Group 3 Sunline Vase
Valachi experienced a fantastic result on Derby Day at Ellerslie (Feb. 29), when Communique (3 f Redwood – Al Bayan, by Zabeel) and Karalino (3 f Zacinto – Tawny Run, by Runyon) finished first and second, respectively, in the $70,000 McKee Family Sunline Vase (Gr. 3, 2100m).
Both trained by Stephen Autridge at Matamata, it was terrific to see the gold colours looming a furlong out and they were locked in battle until Communique got in the deciding strides under visiting rider Michael Walker (who went on to win the NZ Derby aboard Sherwood Forest (Fastnet Rock)).
After showing above average attributes to win a Maiden 1600 metres in January at Ellerslie, Communique had found the line solidly, with notable sectionals, a fortnight earlier in the Avondale Guineas (Gr. 2, 2100m).
“She felt enormous travelling into it and I think she’s got a big future,” Walker said. “She’s got the class to be competitive in Australia.”
Dam Al Bayan is a sister to multiple group winners Cronus (11 wins) and Pravda (8 wins), and a family of strong staying types.
Also at Ellerslie, Woodcote Lass (3 f Showcasing – Lady Woodcote, by Pivotal) produced a big effort for fourth in the $60,000 Mufhasa Fasttrack Stakes (Listed, 1300m).
Ridden by Craig Grylls, for trainer Stephen Autridge, the stakes placed (Canterbury Belle Stakes (Listed, 1200m)) filly navigated a path in tight quarters and displayed good determination.
Valachi graduate Rainbow Thief records third win
Purchased as a yearling for $55,000 from the 2017 Valachi draft at Karaka, Rainbow Thief (3 g Rock ‘N’ Pop – Showzeel, by Zabeel) recorded his third win from seven starts in the $50,000 Benchmark 70 1500 metres last Wednesday at Sandown, Victoria.
He was a winner on the same course in July, before spelling. Ridden again by Dwayne Dunn on yielding ground, Rainbow Thief travelled comfortably in midfield before charging through to lead at the 200m and he powered away to win by three and a half lengths to suggest a good campaign lies ahead.
Selected by Paul Moroney, Rainbow Thief was educated and trialled by Ballymore co-trainer Pam Gerard at Matamata, before transferring to Mike Moroney at Flemington.
Around the farms with Gareth Downey
It was wonderful to have Kevin and Joanna at the farm last week, and their visit was capped off perfectly with them being at Ellerslie to witness the quinella by Communique and Karalino in the Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase.
The racing team has been developing some excellent momentum recently. In the last 20 starts runners in the Valachi gold have produced five wins, including the Gr.3 win by Communique, and three seconds including the Gr.2 placing by Kelly Renee and the Gr.3 placing by Karalino.
The team at the Main Farm are making very good progress with handling and weaning the current crop of foals. There are 32 foals that have been weaned already and another 16 that have been handled and educated ready for weaning.
The team at the Parkvale Farm are also progressing really well in the early stages of the breaking in season, with 16 yearlings currently at varying stages of the process.
Finally, it has been superb to get a decent drop of rain this week and hopefully it will be the start of more to come, so we can start building the autumn flush of grass to carry us through into winter.