A hugely competitive renewal of the $300,000, Group 2, VRC 7News Matriarch Stakes (2000m) saw the formidable team of Darren Weir and John Allen record another feature race win during the VRC Melbourne Cup Carnival when Kenedna (by Not a Single Doubt) squeezed into the clear close to the line to score in a proverbial blanket finish.
A 15-horse field with a $6.00 favourite, the closing stages of this year's Matriarch witnessed a handful of mares in with a genuine winning chance with just 100 metres to race, before Kenedna burst through a small gap in the shadows of the post to win by a relatively narrow margin.
Miss Siska (by So You Think) held off a wall of rivals to claim second place, with Luvaluva (by Mastercraftsman) securing third place.
Illustrating the closeness of the finish is the fact that All Too Soon (4th), Eckstein (5th), Temple of Bel (6th), Our Libretto (7th) and Sheezdashing (8th) all finished within two lengths of the winner.
The official margins of the contest were a long-neck and a head. Winning time was posted as 2m03.81s (last 600m in 33.77s).
Kenedna and John Allen (blue), picture Quentinjlang.com
Winning trainer Darren Weir revealed after the victory that the daughter of Not a Single Doubt was lucky to still be in work as connections were asked to consider sending her to stud this breeding season.
“It is a big win,” was Weir’s initial reaction. “Great… ripper crew of blokes in this horse,” he added.
“Obviously, she didn’t come up last preparation and then the plan was to get her in foal. She spelled up at my farm and I didn’t say for them to put her back in work, but I said ‘you probably should just have a think about sending her to stud or not’.
“For some reason, she developed so much. She’s become so big and strong and maybe another preparation might be good. Johnno [co-owner Mick Johnson] went around and saw all the crew, and the next day came back and said to put her back into work. This is the result. It's a dream result.
“She was a great three-year-old but there’s a bit of upside still to her obviously.”
Winning jockey John Allen also paid tribute to the way Kenedna has been returned to her very best form.
“She’s a great little filly,” declared Allen. “I had a lot of input with her as a three-year-old — a great three-year-old career.
“She just lost her way a little bit last prep, but Darren and the team got her back to her best. And on her good day she can be a very good filly.”
Kenedna was returned at an SP of $10.00, the runner-up Miss Siska at $6.00 favourite, and the minor placegetter Luvaluva at $31.00.
Kenedna is raced by M Johnston, B Kirkwood, T Ginnane, C Roylance, T Mills, A Crouch, T Wilson, S Johnston, S Miller & A Ingersole. Her race record now reads seven wins from 21 starts for earnings of $743,395.
7News Matriarch Stakes, photo finish picture Racing.com