ZOURION Taupo 7 2 23 KW

Exciting Pencarrow-bred Zourion (NZ) Provides Milestone Win for Walker

A blue-blooded graduate of Pencarrow Stud entered racing’s history books on Tuesday when she became the 1000th New Zealand winner for Te Akau Racing’s champion trainer Mark Walker.

Two-year-old filly Zourion (NZ) (Zoustar), who has been nominated for the A$5m Group One Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on March 18, produced a high-class performance at short odds in the $14,000 Placemakers Taupo 2YO (1100m).

Making her debut on the back of an eye-catching trial win three weeks earlier, Zourion was slow to leave the starting gates but recovered quickly to take the lead after 200 metres.

She was challenged in the straight but soon found another gear for jockey Warren Kennedy, pulling ahead again to score by half a length and with plenty in hand.

“She’s still quite babyish and only kicked in across the line,” Kennedy said. “Once the other horse came to her, she said, ‘Right, let’s go.’ They were never going to get past her. She didn’t get to full speed, and she’s quality.”

Walker was delighted with Zourion’s performance, clocking 1:06.93 on a Soft6 track.

“It was a good effort, because she went into it with only a 700-metre trial,” he said. “The filly that ran third is a stakes winner, and I’d heard quite good things about the second horse, so I think the form out of the race will be really strong. If we’re happy with the way she pulls up, we’ll probably run her in the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (Group Two, 1200m) next.”

Zourion is raced by Cambridge Stud owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay, and she was bought by Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis for $475,000 from Pencarrow Stud’s draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2022.

“She’s from a phenomenal family, this filly, and we love winning races for Brendan and Jo,” Ellis said. “They put so much back into the industry and are doing an amazing job of running Cambridge Stud, after they bought it from Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan.”

By highly successful Australian sire Zoustar, who commanded a service fee of A$198,000 in the 2022 breeding season, Zourion is a daughter of an emerging star of Pencarrow’s broodmare band – Irion (NZ) (Danroad).

Herself a four-time winner on the track and Group Two-placed in the Rich Hill Mile (1600m), Irion is a half-sister to the Group One performer and quality broodmare Octapussy (Octagonal) and closely related to countless other black-type stars.

But it is her record as a broodmare that is beginning to really shine. Irion is the dam of three named foals, and all of them are now winners.

Her first foal Ipso Facto (NZ) (More Than Ready) was the first to hit the track, winning a maiden race at Cambridge in June of last year. The lightly raced mare is now five years old.

The four-year-old Pearl Of Alsace (NZ) (Tavistock) appears to be a rising star of the Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray stable, winning all of her three starts to date in impressive style. It would be no surprise to see her graduate to black-type company in the near future.

Zourion is the third foal out of Irion, whose yearling filly by Super Seth was bought by Shaune Ritchie Racing for $260,000 from Pencarrow’s Book 1 draft at Karaka 2023 last week. Irion then had a second mating with Super Seth, returning to Waikato Stud’s Caulfield Guineas winner in the spring of 2022.

Zourion’s victory on Tuesday was a highly satisfying milestone win for Walker, who trained 858 winners in New Zealand before relocating to Singapore more than a decade ago. After winning 684 races and four premierships there, he returned to home soil less than a year ago and has quickly picked up where he left off.

“I was getting pretty close to the mark before I left for Singapore, and it’s great to tick that off today for sure,” Walker said. “I’m especially indebted to David (Ellis) and Karyn (Fenton-Ellis), who do all the hard work putting all the syndicates together. They have put years into getting to this level with ownership, and there are just so many loyal owners there, it’s incredible.”

Photo: Kenton Wright