Horse Racing: Greg Hickman's star sprinter Pierata unleashed a powerful finishing burst to secure his first Group 1 win in the $600,000 All Aged Stakes at Royal Randwick.
Irithea broke through at stakes level and trainer Bjorn Baker broke his Hawkesbury stand-alone drought on Saturday.
“I’ve never had much luck this Hawkesbury meeting but the wait was worth it because Irithea is a very good mare,’’ Baker said. “She deserved her stakes win and I actually believe she is getting better.’’
The talented Irithea ($3.70) led throughout to win by a length from Multaja ($3 favourite) with Manicure ($4.40) nearly three lengths away third.
“She is five-year-old mare and it is not often you say a five-year-old keeps improving but I was confident at the start of her preparation she was going better than ever,’’ Baker said.
“Her first-up run (second to White Moss in the Sapphire Stakes at Randwick) showed she was going really well. Josh (Parr) knows this mare very well and he rode her beautifully. They were able to sneak away on the corner and this mare doesn’t stop, she is a very game mare.’’
Irithea scored her seventh win from 23 starts and took her prizemoney over the $500,000 barrier with her Hawkesbury Crown success.
Josh Parr produced a well-judged ride on Irithea. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Parr said Irithea performs at her best when she can find the front and dictate the race tempo.
“She is a much better mare if she finds the front, establishes a good tempo because her bulldog-like qualities stand her in good stead,’’ Parr said.
Irithea gave Parr his third win in the Hawkesbury Crown after earlier successes with Serenissima (2010) and Pecans last year.
”After her really good second behind White Moss, we were all quite confident today, especially if she found the front because her tenacity takes her a long way.’’
The Hawkesbury Crown is the logical lead-up to the Group 3 $180,000 Dark Jewel Classic (1400m) at Scone in two weeks but Baker wasn’t so sure.
“I will have a bit of a think about it,’’ Baker said.
Irithea dashed away inside the final 200m to win the Hawkesbury Crown. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“We might go straight to Queensland and give her a few weeks between runs.
“I would not mind nominating for the Stradbroke Handicap with her. She would get in with a lightweight and be hard to beat.’’
Pecans did get held up momentarily at the top of the straight before working home well without threatening to finish fifth, beaten just under five lengths.
Aqua D’ivina jumped sideways and lost considerable ground at the start. She was six lengths behind the second-last horse in the field on settling down then eventually caught the field by the turn before finishing seventh, beaten less than six lengths.
King shows no fear
Jockey Rachel King showed there is nothing wrong with her nerve after a daring, winning ride on Intuition at Hawkesbury.
King drew praise from Hall of Famer Darre Beadman after driving Intuition through some narrow gaps in the straight on Intuition to take out the Listed $140,000 XXXX Gold Hawkesbury Rush (1100m).
“Rachel went where angels fear to tread,’’ Beadman said.
“I had to breathe in a couple of times,’’ King replied.
King only returned to race riding on Thursday after spending two months out with a broken collarbone. She has quickly regained winning form and confidence scoring with her first ride back on Romantic Whisper at Randwick on Anzac Day and backing up with her stakes success at the Hawkesbury stand-alone meeting.
The promising Intuition ($8), trained by James Cummings at Godolphin, came through between runners to edge out favourite Tactical Advantage ($2.25 favourite) with Badajoz ($14) finishing third in a tight three-way finish.
“Intituion felt super, he is a beautiful horse to ride,’’ King said. “He was brave there as he had to fight his way through a few gaps but he never gave up on me, he’s very tough.
“Godolphin has been fantastic, thanks to James and his team for sticking by me.
“They didn’t wait to put me back on, straight away I was back at the trials for them and to put me on Intuition for this race was great and is something I really appreciate.’’