Princess Rihanna finds her winning groove
Quality three-year-old filly Princess Rihanna finally found her way back to the winner’s enclosure when she demolished a handy field of older horses in the rating 75 Dunstan Feeds 1500 Championship Qualifier (1400m) at Ellerslie.
Successful on debut as a two-year-old, the Showcasing filly had failed to greet the judge in six subsequent appearances before Saturday’s contest. Those statistics fail to tell the whole story however, as the Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott trained runner had competed with distinction in rich company throughout her two-year-old campaign including running fourth in both the Listed Karaka Million (1200m) and the Gr. 1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (1400m).
|Princess Rihanna Photo: Trish Dunell|
A fresh-up third in the Gr. 3 Hawkes Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) was followed by an indifferent run for seventh in the Listed Partners Life Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) before she contested Saturday’s event.
Plagued by a tendency to begin slowly in her races, Princess Rihanna turned that form on its head as she bounced brilliantly from a midfield barrier to dispute the early speed before taking a sit in behind the leaders for rider Sam Weatherley.
Weatherley took the initiative rounding the home bend as he dashed the filly to a clear lead from where she comfortably held her rivals at bay to win by a length and a quarter at the line.
Co-trainer Andrew Scott admitted that things hadn’t quite gone to plan during the race.
“Funnily enough we had talked about riding her back a bit seeing it was her first go against the older horses,” he said.
“To his credit Sam took the initiative once she jumped so well and decided to put her in the fight early on which has worked out for us.
“She showed a really nice turn of foot when he asked her to go which augurs well for what she has coming up.”
Plans before Saturday’s event had been to have the filly contest the Gr. 3 Lawnmaster Eulogy Stakes (1550m) at Awapuni on 16 December however Scott was keen to see how his charge came through the race before confirming that assignment.
“Lance and I had talked about the Eulogy for her, but we will just have to wait and see how she pulls up before we make that commitment,” he said.
“We will have a chat later in the week but her performance on Saturday does provide plenty of food for thought about how she might cope over a little more distance in her races.
“We’ve mainly thought she was a sprinting type, being quite a nuggety individual, but the way she relaxes does give you confidence she could get over further.
“If they are going to do that sometimes it is when they are up against their own sex and age so there are plenty of opportunities coming up for her over the summer.” - NZ Racing Desk