New G3 winner for Rip Van Winkle
Consistent mare Sleeping Beauty (Rip Van Winkle) finally got the major race win she deserved when she took out the Group III ISCL Rotorua Stakes (1400m) on Saturday.
The Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott-trained six-year-old has proven a model of consistency throughout her career, having finished inside the top three in two-thirds of her 21 career starts before Saturday's Rotorua feature.
Included in that record was a narrow defeat in the Gr.2 Westbury Classic (1400m) at Ellerslie two starts ago where she beat all but Group One performer Volpe Veloce in a desperate finish.
Sleeping Beauty was amongst the well-favoured candidates in an even line-up at Rotorua that saw the lightly raced Back In A Flash start favourite for the contest that was raced on a Slow8 surface.
Rider Craig Grylls was at his tactical best as he worked Sleeping Beauty in a handy position from a wide draw before sweeping to the lead on the point of the home turn. The Rip Van Winkle mare took over shortly after and held off the late challenge of Te Toro Pearl to secure the victory.
"She really deserved this," co-trainer Andrew Scott said.
"She has raced consistently and honestly all season and today was no different.
"She was posted three-deep on the speed and was entitled to be run down, but she was very brave.
"She galloped out a strong 1400m today."
Scott admitted the race had been the main target for the mare after she had excelled during an extended preparation through the spring and early summer.
"She raced so well in the spring and it gave us a wee bit of confidence to crack on through the summer months," he said.
"She kept up a really good campaign, so we gave her a quick break and then aimed her for this.
"It's just so pleasing to get a result for all the Pencarrow team.
"She deserves this."
Scott was also keen to keep the mare in work with an eye to the Listed Tauranga Classic (1400m) in June as another possible target.
"She seems to be holding up to this preparation really well and will only improve with this run under her belt," he said.
"She keeps on coming on so hopefully we head that way (to Tauranga)."
Raced by her breeder, Sir Peter Vela, Sleeping Beauty has now won nine of her 22 starts. She is the third foal of Danehill mare, Kailey Princess and hails from the extended family of Gr.1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) winner Herculian Prince along with multiple Group One winner, Racing To Win.
She is the 27th stakes-winner for Windsor Park Stud's Rip Van Winkle and the fifth individual stakes winner this season for the Champion miling son of breedshaping sire Galileo.
Rip Van Winkle in upcoming sales:
5 lots at NZB Karaka May Sale
3 lots at MM Gold Coast National Weanling Sale