Back-to-Back Wins for Atacama

Pencarrow Racing celebrated back-to-back wins by Atacama (Pentire) with an easy win in the $15,000 Ray Eriksen’s 70th Birthday Rating 75 on Friday at Te Rapa over 1600m.

The Shaune Ritchie trained galloper was second up from a spell, having won in a fresh state at Ruakaka last month, and took her overall record to four wins from eight starts. The mare showed enough promise as a three-year-old for Ritchie to attempt black-type at the end of her last campaign.

Ridden by apprentice jockey Ming Cheung today, the daughter of Pentire was backed into race favouritism by punters and duly delivered, scoring by 1.75 lengths. She was given the perfect run in fifth spot on the back of a hot speed and let down strongly to draw away from the field in the concluding stages.

“She went super,” commented Ritchie. “We have always thought she had ability and wanted to get her to the Oaks last season as a three-year-old but had a few issues last preparation.

“She has come back in great form this preparation and Leon Casey did a great job with her when she was spelling out at Pencarrow.

“She is a mare full of promise and she was well ridden today by the young apprentice, I think she could be a Cups horse this season.

“She won a Rating 85 at Ruakaka then came back to Rating 75 today so we will continue to work the system in our favour with the fillies and mares allowance.

“The real test will be to see if she can run out a strong 2000m which I think she will be able to. If she can step over distance we may look at something like the Counties Cup or Waikato Cup. I think she would be a strong chance in those sorts of races if we can get in on the minimum weight.”

Atacama has now earned $43,450 in prizemoney for owner Peter Vela who bred the horse in partnership with his brother Philip Vela. The four-year-old mare is out the Catbird mare Almaviva, a daughter of Group 1 New Zealand Oaks placegetter Pavan (Centaine). Almaviva has one other foal to race, Precisely (Align), a dual winner.

Almaviva, who recently foaled a colt by Savabeel, has a Tavistock yearling that will be retained by the Stud to race and is booked to visit freshman sire Reliable Man this season.