Flashback Friday – Livamol Classic
Prominent South Island owner and racing supporter Ray Coupland will chase further Livamol Classic spoils at Hastings on Saturday with the favourite Savvy Coup, a decade on from his dream double in the spring showpiece.
The 2040-metre race was formerly known as the Kelt Capital Stakes, and in 2007 and 2008 it carried record prize-money of $2 million. It was won on both occasions by the exceptional mare Princess Coup, defeating star-studded fields with spectacular performances.
Raced by Coupland in partnership with John Bromley, the daughter of Encosta De Lago is the only horse in the last 35 years to win back-to-back runnings of the weight-for-age feature.
Princess Coup was bought for A$260,000 by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis at the 2005 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.
Trained at Matamata by Mark Walker, immediately showed promise with a win in her juvenile season, and as a three-year-old she captured the Gr. 1 New Zealand Oaks along with two Group Threes, two Listed races and two Group One placings.
But it was in the 2007 and 2008 Hawke’s Bay spring carnivals that Princess Coup really made her name.
The 2007 Kelt Capital Stakes produced a four-way finish for the ages. The distance was slightly beyond the reach of mighty mare Seachange, but she bravely stayed in the battle with New Zealand 2000 Guineas winner Magic Cape and perennial big-race performer J’Adane.
The trio appeared to be fighting out the finish among themselves, but rider Noel Harris unleashed Princess Coup with an extraordinary finishing burst to nab them right on the line for a nose victory.
She returned to defend her title the following October, facing nine individual Group One winners. Princess Coup was the $2.20 favourite following her lead-up victory in the Stoney Bridge Stakes (now Windsor Park Plate), and the result was never in doubt.
Jockey Opie Bosson had the chestnut in third-last position in the 16-horse field until the 800-metre mark, when she began to creep forward.
Angled to the outside at the top of the straight, Princess Coup bounded to the lead 150 metres from home for an emphatic victory over Red Ruler and Nom Du Jeu.
“Princess Coup, back-to-back Kelts,” race-caller Tony Lee exclaimed. “Pay the lady, she’s brilliant!”
It was a proud moment for Coupland, who was recovering from a recent heart operation.
“I’m very emotional,” he said as his pride and joy returned to scale. "Racing is an amazing game. It does things that nothing else does.”
Princess Coup concluded her racing career with 12 wins from 33 starts, amassing more than $4.2 million in prize-money. She showed her mettle in Australia with a win in the Gr. 2 St. George Stakes and Group One placings in the Caulfield Cup, Mackinnon Stakes, Australian Cup, Ranvet Stakes and BMW.
Walker subsequently left his Matamata stable to oversee Te Akau’s expansion into Singapore. His former position is now occupied by Jamie Richards, who will saddle Our Abbadean in Saturday’s Livamol Classic with Bosson in the saddle.