Sleeping Beauty (Rip Van Winkle) continued her impressive progress through the grades on Saturday with a fourth consecutive victory (fifth in total), winning her eagerly anticipated clash with Deals In Heels at Matamata with a convincing front-running performance.
The two highly rated mares came into Saturday's $30,000 Russell & Yvonne Green Memorial 1200 with a combined record of eight wins from 14 starts, and neither had tasted defeat since June.
Last season’s champion apprentice Sam Weatherley had his fourth ride on Sleeping Beauty and maintained his perfect winning record on the Rip Van Winkle mare.
Weatherley sent Sleeping Beauty straight to the head of the small but classy field, then slowed things up and gave her an easy time in front. Sleeping Beauty had plenty left in the tank as she rounded the home turn, and she kicked away stylishly to win by two and a half lengths.
Kitaya was second throughout the race and held that position to the finish, while Deals In Heels ran on from second-last to take third.
“She’s flying, this horse,” Weatherley said. “She just keeps stepping up and stepping up. There’s definitely a black-type race in her.
“She came back to me really nicely in front today and got some nice easy sectionals. She just keeps winning, and that’s all she can do.”
Sleeping Beauty is trained by Weatherley’s employers, local Matamata stable of Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott, for owner-breeder Sir Peter Vela. The five-year-old has now had 10 starts for five wins and three seconds, earning $58,750 in prize-money.
“Sam rated her very well in front today and she got away with a couple of cheap sectionals,” O’Sullivan said.
“Her work on Tuesday morning was very, very good and she’s certainly gone to the next level. Her record is pretty good, she’s hardly ever been out of the first two (5 wins & 3 seconds form 10 starts), and I think she’s still got a wee way to go.
“We’re hoping to have a go at some black-type at some point – we’ll just have a look and see if we can find a suitable race, and discuss it with Garry (Cossey, Pencarrow racing manager) and take it from there.”