Congregation Makes Perfect Debut for Sir Peter

Blue-blooded colt Congregation (Snitzel) has emerged as the latest exciting prospect part-owned by Pencarrow principal Sir Peter Vela.

The two-year-old made a winning debut in Wednesday’s A$55,000 TAB Handicap (1250m) at Canterbury Park for champion expat New Zealand trainer Chris Waller.

Congregation was already an enormously valuable colt before he had even set foot on a racetrack – he was bought for A$2.25m as a yearling, and he is a full-brother to the Group One Golden Slipper (1200m) winner Estijaab (Snitzel).

By champion sire Snitzel, Congregation is out of the Charge Forward mare Response, who herself won the Group One Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) and Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m).

Congregation became the fifth winner from six foals to race out of Response. In addition to Estijaab, she is also the dam of the Group Two-placed Remarque (Snitzel) and the Listed-placed Alter Call (Fastnet Rock).

Congregation headed into Wednesday’s debut on the back of two trials, having finished third in the most recent of them at Rosehill last week.

Ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, Congregation was in a tightly packed bunch rounding the home turn but quickened sharply at the top of the straight and soon strode into contention.

He finished over the top of Dumebi (Lonhro) and thrust his neck out for a narrow but impressive win.

“He’s got a lovely attitude and has a bit of class about him as well,” McEvoy said. “I have no doubt that he’s going to keep improving.

“He was a little bit raw during the race. He sort of rolled around under me a bit coming around the corner. Then he picked up and concentrated for about 100 yards in the straight, then sort of had a look around once he got in front.

“He’s a lovely colt. He’s only going to keep going forward in the next six to nine months. He’ll come on and learn a lot from that today. He’s a horse that’s going to be suited over further and on bigger tracks than this, so it was exciting to see him do that here today.”

Sir Peter Vela shares ownership of Congregation with Coolmore, Wynaus, Westerberg, Joe Poulin, Chris Waller Racing, Lynque, Woppitt Bloodstock, Peachester Lodge, Kerry and Jenny Pooley, Rockingham Thoroughbreds, Robert McClure and Katsumi Yoshida.

“He lengthened out nicely and it ended up looking like a soft win despite what you would have seen at the 600,” Waller stable representative Charlie Duckworth said.

“He's obviously a horse with plenty of talent, and it's just completely untapped at the moment. I'm sure once he works it all out, it's going to be pretty exciting for everyone. There's a massive amount of improvement.”

Congregation became the second two-year-old part-owned by Sir Peter Vela to win in Sydney in the space of three weeks. Zoustar colt Kandinsky Abstract also made a winning debut for the Waller stable at Canterbury on May 3.