Group One Goal on Horizon for Pearl Of Alsace (NZ)

Pencarrow mare Pearl Of Alsace (NZ) (Tavistock) produced a bold audition for a Group One assignment in her next start when she won Saturday’s $90,000 Westbury Stud Royal Descent Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie.

The exciting mare won all of her first five career starts last season, culminating in the Group Three Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham. Her first taste of defeat was an unlucky fourth in the Group One New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) – a race that is firmly in her sights again 12 months later, with the 2024 edition set to be run at Te Aroha on March 30.

Saturday’s race was the first start in a new preparation for Pearl Of Alsace, whose five-race spring campaign featured a win at Te Rapa, a third in the Group One Livamol Classic (2040m) and a fourth in the Group Two Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.

Pearl Of Alsace was ridden by Michael McNab on Saturday and settled in fourth in a six-horse field before swooping around the outside to stake her claim at the top of Ellerslie’s home straight. Front-runner Klairelle (NZ) (Savabeel) refused to give up without a fight, but Pearl Of Alsace gradually got the better of that rival and won by a short neck.

Trained by Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray, Pearl Of Alsace has now had 12 starts for seven wins, two placings and $291,070 in stakes.

Bred by Pencarrow Thoroughbreds Ltd and raced by Sir Peter Vela, Pearl Of Alsace is one of three foals to race out of emerging star Pencarrow broodmare Irion (NZ) (Danroad). All of Irion’s three runners have been winners, and two of them have won at stakes level. Zourion (NZ) (Zoustar) captured last year’s Group Two Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) and later placed in the Group Two Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) in Melbourne.

Irion herself was a quality performer in the Pencarrow colours, winning four races and placing in the Group Two Rich Hill Mile (1600m) as well as the Group Three Cuddle Stakes (1600m).