Melbourne memories of the mighty mare Ethereal (NZ) (Rhythm) ensure that October and November are always a special time of year for Pencarrow Stud and the Vela family, and two Listed victories in New Zealand in the space of a week have made this spring even more special than usual.
Sixteen years ago almost to the day, Ethereal won the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m). A few weeks later, she went to Flemington and completed the famous double in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m). To date she is the last horse to win both of Australia’s famous staying handicaps in the same spring.
At the same time as the great Melbourne carnival has begun to warm up for another year, the Pencarrow racing team has hit top gear on this side of the Tasman.
It began last Saturday with a double at Matamata – Sleeping Beauty (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) scored her fourth straight win in a Rating 85 sprint, then Ethereal’s close relative Cote D’Or (NZ) (Makfi) took out the $50,000 Listed Team Wealleans Matamata Cup (1600m).
Then at Rotorua on Saturday, Wildflower (NZ) (Keeper) carried on that winning roll with her first black-type win in the $50,000 Listed Jakkalberry Classic (1950m).
Ridden by Danielle Johnson for trainers Graham Richardson and Gavin Parker, the five-year-old fought back after being headed by Snow Secret (NZ) (Sakhee’s Secret) and won a thrilling battle by a nose.
Wildflower has now had 14 starts for four wins, five placings and $100,425 in prize-money.
Bred and raced by Sir Peter Vela, Wildflower is a daughter of the race-winning Zabeel mare Zygadene (NZ). A full-sister to the multiple stakes winner Lafleur (NZ), Zygadene is the dam of four winners from four foals to race.