For part-owners Lindsay de Souza, Doug Painter, Todd Hartley and Paul Vawdrey, victory with Let Her Rip in today’s Gr. 3 ISCL Rotorua Stakes carried far more value than its $70,000 prize-money.
The group of friends also shared in the ownership of three-time Group One winner Turn Me Loose, who will embark on a stud career at Windsor Park this spring. Today’s win in the Rotorua fillies and mares’ feature, which was Let Her Rip’s first success at stakes level, sets her up as a high-profile prospective mating for the star sprinter-miler in future.
“With some of Turn Me Loose’s owners involved in this horse, she’s likely to be meeting with him at some stage later on,” Let Her Rip’s trainer Shaune Ritchie said.
“They can’t take this Group Three win away from us now. It’s great from a breeding perspective. She’s been unlucky not to at least place at stakes level before this.”
Owned in partnership with Ritchie’s wife Alison, Let Her Rip finished fifth in the Gr. 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas and sixth in the Bendigo Guineas as a three-year-old, and earlier this season she had trouble finding room before running home into fifth in the Gr. 3 Cuddle Stakes. But, at last, today was her black-type day.
Ridden for the first time by Chris Johnson, the four-year-old sat in sixth place through the early part of the 1400-metre race as the three-year-old filly Honey Rider showed the way under a fierce hold.
The moves began to be made approaching the home turn, with New York Minute ranging up on the outside and the favourite Underthemoonlight swooping around widest of all. Johnson found a gap between the two and Let Her Rip burst through, racing to the lead 100 metres from home and stretching out to win by a length and a half. New York Minute edged out Underthemoonlight by a short neck for second.
The win completed a treble for the day for Canterbury-based Johnson, who had won only two races at Rotorua in his whole riding career before today. He has now won 84 races this season, five behind the premiership leader Danielle Johnson.
“I had to decide between coming here and riding down at Riverton,” he said. “I was going to come up here for the original meeting last weekend, and when they rescheduled it for today I decided to come up again.
“This mare got handy, put herself right there and travelled really nicely all the way. She got out in the straight and found a good kick. Once I got her to the outside I thought she was going to be a good chance.”
Today’s race was delayed by more than half an hour due to a medical event involving an on-course patron, during which time the Rotorua Stakes runners were continually walked around in the birdcage. Ritchie was relieved to see his mare cope so well with that unusual situation.
“She’s sometimes got a bit hot before her races in the past, so it was a good sign when the race was delayed that she stayed calm and composed,” he said.
“Chris is a very good rider at his best. It briefly looked like he might try to take an inside run at the top of the straight, but he made the right choice. That’s why you book the best riders.”
Let Her Rip has now had 17 starts for five wins, three placings and more than $123,000 in prize-money. Her eight starts this season have netted three wins and three placings.
“It’s been a long season, so it will be good to put her out soon and get ready for the spring,” Ritchie said. “But with how wet it is in Queensland at the moment, we might talk to the owners about a quick trip over there. We’ll see.
Let Her Rip became Rip Van Winkle's 6th individual Group winner from his first southern hemisphere crop and his 16th stakes-winner overall.