Classy mare Coventina Bay (ShamExpress) was up to all of her cantankerous tricks in the pre-race buildup to Sunday’s Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie, but when it came time for business she was at her professional best as she claimed back to back Group One victories in a month.
The Robbie Patterson-trained six-year-old had threatened to win at the highest level for quite some time and achieved that goal when she downed race rivals Vernanme and The Chosen One in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa last month.
In a mirror image of that result the daughter of ShamExpress produced another powerful home straight sprint to burst past Vername in the final 100m to win going away by a length with The Chosen One closing off strongly from well back to take third.
Patterson, who had taken a fair bit of rough and tumble from his charge as he attempted to get her and Grylls away to the start after leaving the birdcage, cut an emotional figure after the race.
“She is a cantankerous little sod and gives me a workout every time, but it is normal for her,” he said.
“Her record speaks for itself however — this is unbelievable to tell the truth.
“Bonecrusher was my teenage hero so to win a race named in his honour is pretty special.
“We know she can handle a little bit of chip in the track and the rail is not one hundred percent today, but Craig did it beautifully.
“He knew what he had underneath him and what a little champ she is.”
Patterson was keen to look ahead to a third Group One bid on home soil in New Zealand before possibly turning his sights to a second Australian campaign for the mare.
“We have the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.1, 1600m) next month, so I will freshen her up, but they also have an 1800m race at the Gold Coast (Gr.2 Hollindale Stakes), where they can get a bit of cut in the track, which could be an ideal race too,” he said.
“This is my first win at Ellerslie so to get a win here in a Group One is amazing and I am very proud.”
The New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes will be run at Te Rapa on April 16, with Te Aroha being renovated, while the Hollindale Stakes is on May 7.
Grylls, who was on his first day back riding after copping a suspension when piloting La Crique to victory in the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2200m) on February 19, was delighted to be claim another Group One win aboard the mare.
“It’s brilliant as we got the perfect run,” he said.
“I was three back the fence and at the 1000m I was thinking what are we going to do to get out of this, but I was following Vernanme and he popped off at the 600m and I was able to get a run through.
“The key to her is that she has such a turn of foot and even over a trip, she just outsprints them.
“She switches off in the run and when you ask her to go, she just wants to do it.
“After the line she pulls up and is like a kid’s pony walking back in, but before the race she can be a real handful.
“It’s a big thrill and to win two Group Ones on a mare is pretty special.”
Bred by co-owner Wayne Darling under his EVB Ltd. banner, Coventina Bay is by Windsor Park Stud stallion ShamExpress and is a daughter of three-win High Chaparral mare Coventina, from the great Windsor Park family of their multiple Group One winner Nimue.
She has now won eleven of her 22 starts and over $692,000 in prizemoney.