It was a sterling finish with two excellent fillies fighting out the finish well clear of the rest but Norzita (NZ) and Hugh Bowman prevailed once again over Longport and Christian Reith in the $400,000, Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Norzita digs deep to win the Vinery Stakes, picture sportpix.com.au
The two jockeys took different paths during the journey with Reith and Longport tracking She’s A Girl and Nathan Berry who took the leaders role down the back straight. Bowman and the Bart Cummings trained Norzita found a passage to the rails in mid-field from barrier seven and watched the leaders from there.
At the 1000m She’s A Girl was 2 1/2L ahead of Longport with a further 2L to Cameo and Kerrin McEvoy.
Bowman did not commence his move until 500m from home when he worked Norzita away from the rails and out to the middle of the track. The move was so smooth that as they straightened they were alongside Longport on the John Thompson trained filly’s outside as She’s A Girl faded.
Norzita forged to the lead with 200m to run but Longport was not intimidated and she fought back. They had left the rest of the field behind and settled down to a serious stride for stride battle. Norzita had the lead and as try and as Longport (Casino Prince) did, she could not reach the leader and the margin was a long neck at the line.
Habibi (NZ) (Ekaar) and Vinnie Colgan came from mid-field for third, the margin 2 3/4L. Gondokoro (NZ) was fourth and Dear Demi fifth.
The time was 2.06.12 on the Slow 7 track with the final 600m in 35.95. Norzita paid $2.90 on NSW TAB as favourite. Norzita was a popular runner with TAB customers betting up big on the filly including $5,000 @ $2.90 and $10,000 @ $1.40 (place).
Cummings, 85, was not at the track being prudent with the rain and variable weather to watch his filly win the race registered in the name of the filly Storm Queen he trained to win the 1966 Golden Slipper. The victory was his 266th Group 1 win.
Norzita's connections at the trophy presentation, picture sportpix.com.au
“She had to do it the tough way and she is one of the toughest fillies I have had anything to do with so I am very proud and great to see her win today,” said James Cummings, Randwick foreman for his grandfather.
“We will take that, that was dominant enough for us we are switching back to the 1600m now (Doncaster) and I am sure Bart will be tickled pink.
“We will be switching back and I think she will be extremely effective over 1600m at Randwick.”
“Not many Flight Stakes winners come to this race and those that do perform pretty well, it’s a great race for favourites and she stood up and got the job done as favourite today and she is a class above and heads to the Doncaster,” he said.
“I have had two rides on her for two Group 1 wins so that does not happen often but she has been racing well she was a class horse going into the race and thoroughly deserves the victory,” said Bowman.
“She arrived their easy (the lead) I felt she did idle a bit in front she towed me to the lead and I held onto her passing the 300m and when I said go I expected a Flight Stakes sort of domination but she did idle in front.
“I was worried momentarily when she didn’t put the other horse away she was strong late and she is a class above this lot.
“She will be a definite chance in that (Doncaster), if they go to the Oaks she will win that,” he said.
It was a bittersweet second for Thompson after the news earlier in the week that the Patinack Farm stable will be close in the coming weeks with a buyer being sought for all the racing and breeding stock as well as Patinack owned farms and property.
“They are the two dominant horses going into the spring and they were dominant there today. You just do not win a race like that off a poor run and the ground and at 95% the other filly has just got the wood on her,” said Thompson.
“She will go to the Oaks now.
“It has been a tough week and she nearly made it a bit better, anyway, what do you do. We cannot help the Boss’s situation and we are just doing our best.
“You know as much as me, no one knows. Day by day, I do not know. Very uncertain times for me and the staff so we just cross our fingers and hope,” he said.
The placegetters in the race were the biggest firmers in TAB’s Australian Oaks market with Longport and Habibi significant firmers.
Longport is $26 into $9 while Habibi was $4.50 into a now clear $3.20 favourite.
Norzita, by Thorn Park out of the Quest For Fame mare Visique, is owned by Dato Tan Chin Nam and Westcode Syndicate managed by Tunku Ahmad Yahaya. This was her fourth win from just 10 starts and with four placings she has earned stakes of $762,600.
Race 4, photofinish picture ATC