The richest race ever run at Ruakaka had the perfect local result this afternoon as the brilliant little home-town filly Prom Queen blew her Tavistock Northland Breeders’ Stakes rivals off the track for her seventh win in eight career starts.
The three-year-old race was upgraded to Group Three level this year and its stake increased to $70,000, and it coincided with celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of seaside racing at Ruakaka.
The early part of today’s meeting had been a parade of upsets, with four of the first five winners returning dividends between $17 and $58. But normal service was emphatically and spectacularly resumed by the $1.40 favourite Prom Queen, the third winner from three runners on the day for local trainers Kenny and Lisa Rae and Krystal Williams.
The daughter of young Hallmark Stud stallion Super Easy had kicked off her three-year-old season on her home track two weeks ago, pulverising an outclassed field by six lengths over 1000 metres. She stepped up to 1200 metres today against better-credentialled opposition, but the result was the same.
Regular rider Alysha Collett slotted Prom Queen into second place in the early part of the race as first-starter Not Usual Heart set the pace.
The local star’s biggest dangers, the Tony Pike-trained pair of Aim Smart and Felton Road, began to move through their gears as the field turned for home and briefly looked threatening. But then Prom Queen produced that trademark turn of foot, bursting clear again and crossing the finish line two and a half lengths ahead of Aim Smart.
The margin may have been smaller than the nine and a half lengths, five and a quarter lengths and six lengths in her last three starts, but it was no less impressive. Just as they did two weeks ago, her big group of owners started celebrating well before the race was over.
“I love winning any race, whether it’s here or down on the West Coast or anywhere, but to win our biggest race at Ruakaka with this filly is marvellous,” Kenny Rae said. “She’s just a freak of a horse.
“I don’t know what it is that makes her so good – it must be my training! But no, she’s got a great attitude. I heard Chris Waller once say that the key attributes of a racehorse are speed and attitude, and this little filly has 200 per cent of both!
“There are always a few knockers, but I don’t think she’s got anything to prove now. I was actually less nervous today than I was two weeks ago – after that win, she had nothing left that she needed to prove to me.”
Prom Queen’s seven wins and a placing from eight starts have netted her owners more than $155,000 in prize-money. This was her third stakes win, following victories in the Listed Welcome Stakes and Champagne Stakes at Riccarton last season.
There could still be a whole lot more to come, with the Gr. 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas at Riccarton in November at the top of Rae’s wish list. Following today’s win, she is now the $6 favourite for the $300,000 fillies’ classic.
“I really want to have a shot at the 1000 Guineas,” Rae said. “I think she can get 1600 metres. I might be wrong, but even if I am, who cares? She’s still won seven races.”
Prom Queen was the first locally trained winner of the race since Upsala, also from the Rae stable, in 2010.
Felton Road finished third, two and a half lengths behind his stablemate Aim Smart. Global Thinking crossed the line in fourth place, followed by Not Usual Heart, Dashper, Bombard and Rakau Whero.