Cup Victory for Atacama

Talented Pencarrow Racing mare Atacama (Pentire x Almaviva) captured the first stakes win of her career on Saturday with a stylish victory in the Listed $50,000 Team Wealleans Matamata Cup (1600m).

Atacama winning the Listed Matamata Cup.
Photo courtesy of Trish Dunell.

Carrying the blue and white hoops of Sir Peter Vela, Atacama is the first stakes winner for Pencarrow this season.

Unbeaten in two starts this campaign, Atacama, trained by Shaune Ritchie, was an impressive winner fresh up as she stormed home from back in the field at Hastings, beating the highly regarded Chambord (Zabeel).

Saturday’s Listed race saw a rematch with Chambord and the script was very familiar as Atacama claimed victory over Chambord with a strong finish once again.

Rider Mark du Plessis summed the race up perfectly as he followed Chambord everywhere he went. Atacama tracked Chambord through a gap in the straight and when presented in the centre of the track produced a strong turn-of-foot – racing to victory by one length.

“She has improved to the next level this year,” commented Ritchie. “Leon (Casey) has done a great job of getting her feet right – she had bruised soles during her last campaign but now we are on top of that she is certainly racing up to her best.

“We have ridden her handy in the past but her barrier draws in her two runs this preparation have indicated we should ride her cold and we might have stumble on the right way to do it – she certainly has a powerful finish.”

The black-type status of Saturday’s race adds to the residual value of Atacama and Ritchie has further stakes targets this campaign.

“We were originally targeting the Counties Cup and Waikato Cup but weight is going to be worry,” said Ritchie. “She is rolling up the handicap quickly but at this stage we are keen on the Counties Cup.

“It is always in the back of your mind when you train for studs or breeders to chase black-type. She already has a Group 3 placing under her belt and it was nice to get a stakes win. It is on to the next level now and we will try to get a Group win with her.”

Saturday’s victory was Atacama’s sixth win from 17 starts and took her earnings to $112,170.

Bred by Sir Peter Vela and Philip Vela, Atacama is out of Almaviva (Catbird) who has had three foals to race that have all been winners. Almaviva is a daughter of dual Group 1 runner-up Pavan (Centaine) with her third dam being Group 1 winner Marmalitre (Wolverton).

Almaviva produced a colt by first season sire Reliable Man in August. She has a yearling colt by Savabeel entered for the New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sales Series in January 2015.