Dane Ruler rounds up Shanzero. Kenton Wright www.raceimages.co.nz
The most important black type race in New Zealand for fillies and mares, the $200,000, Group I, New Zealand Bloodstock Breeders Stakes (1600m) went the way of South African-bred Australian-trained mare Dane Julia (5 B. M. Caesour – Precious Julia, by Danehill) at Te Aroha on Saturday.
In the hands of comeback rider Michael Walker, Dane Julia loomed in centre track at the 300 metres from back in the field and came with an undeniable burst of speed to beat the favourite Shanzero (Danzero) by a long neck.
Walker had suffered major injuries in May last year when falling off cliff while pig hunting, with some saying the pig strapped to his back at the time helped save his life, and while recording his fourteenth group one win, it was his first since returning to the saddle in December last year.
Veloce Bella (Volksraad) stormed home from back in the field to finish a length away in third, ahead of locally trained mare Loaded Command (Commands) in fourth.
The time for the 1600 metres was a slick 1:34.30, and the winner returned $5.60 & $2.30.
The 39th running of the event, formerly the Gordon Wyborn Stakes, brought together a global affair with Dane Julia having registered a group one win amongst her six victories in South Africa, before changing hands to be trained by Lee Freedman at Rye, on the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne, Victoria, and it was left to Freedman travelling foreman Scott Magee to bring some local flavour to the event having been born in Patea, New Zealand.
Magee was apprenticed to Woodville trainer Maurice Murphy, riding Oliver’s Dream in his only success, and now boasts trips to Royal Ascot in England with Miss Andretti and to Singapore with Mummify on his CV after twenty-one years working in the Freedman stable.
Magee said of Dane Julia, “She won this way round back in South Africa, which was a big plus in bringing her here. It’s a nice race, and great for her to get black type on the other side of the world.”
Magee was particularly impressed by the ride, saying, “Geez he rode it well. She got back, but when he got her into the clear I thought if she’s any good she’ll be tough.”
And it seems the win may have prompted a continuation of her time in New Zealand, having only arrived here last Monday. “We’ve been spoilt at the property of Tony Pike, and we may now stay for a couple of runs.”
“It’s a great thrill to win a big race here, being a fellow Kiwi myself, and hopefully we can win a few more.”
Bred by F. M. Ratner & L. M. Salzman, Dane Julia is owned by P. S. Buckley and S. Sukrin, who were unfortunately unable to be present for the victory.