Impressive Waitak swoops on Eagle Memorial
A storming late run by powerfully built three-year-old Waitak continued the latest run of success for his sire Proisir as he captured the Listed Trevor & Corallie Eagle Memorial (1500m) at Te Rapa.
Placed at Group One level as a two-year-old when prepared by Peter and Dawn Williams, Waitak was having just his second run for the Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott team on Saturday.
Rider Craig Zackey, who is also enjoying a purple patch of form since relocating to New Zealand from South African at the beginning of the month, resisted the temptation to move forward in a slowly run race and allowed his charge to find his feet at the rear of the field.
Spotting pacemaker and race favourite Matter Of Honour a conservative twelve lengths at the 600m, Zackey began to ease into contention at that point but was still near last rounding the home turn.
Just as Channel Surfer appeared to be set for victory as he put his head in front of Matter Of Honour with 100m to run, Waitak appeared on his outside and buried the pair to win going away by a neck at the line.
O’Sullivan was pleased with the performance as he had almost written off his chances approaching the home turn.
“It was a good effort as, if you look at the tempo of the race and the way it was run, he sat back and to quicken like he did indicates he has a pretty good future,” he said.
“I thought with about 500m to run he couldn’t win, so to get up from where he was, was some effort by the horse.”
Waitak holds a nomination for the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in March, with O’Sullivan keen to see if he can make the natural progression over more ground to get him to the race that the stable has won in the last two years with Rocket Spade and Asterix.
“Andrew and I are hoping (about the Derby), but it is a long way off at this stage,” O’Sullivan said.
“He is shaping as a horse that could run in a race like that, but we will go home and discuss some plans for him with the next target possibly being the Auckland Guineas (Gr.2, 1600m) on New Year’s day.
“That sets him up on the map to run in those three-year-old staying races later in the summer.”
The victory was Zackey’s second at stakes level in New Zealand after taking out the Gr.2 Tauranga Stakes (1600m) aboard Demonetization a fortnight ago and he was full of praise for his mount.
“I was in two minds as I knew the horse had ability and you don’t want to give away too much start, but he had a widish draw so I just put my faith in the horse,” he said.
“I made my move around the bend as the horse in front of me wasn’t helping much, so I pulled him out wide and all credit to the horse (for his finish).
“Another mile (next start) will do him the world of good, but I think in time he will get to 2000m.
“I’m here to do my best and you can’t do that without the support of the trainers and owners, so a big thanks to Lance and Andrew and the connections of this one for giving me the ride,” said Zackey, who would add another stakes success when Prise De Fer won the Gr.3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) later on the card.
Raced by his breeder Colin Devine, Waitak is the first foal out of the Shocking mare Repo Bay and has now won twice from eight starts.
He becomes the tenth individual Stakes winner for his Rich Hill Stud-based sire Proisir, who enjoyed a winning Group One double with Pier (Gr.1 New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas, 1600m) and Legarto (Gr.1 New Zealand One Thousand Guineas 1600m) at Riccarton a fortnight ago.
With the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale series to be held from January 29 to February 3, buyers will have the opportunity to select from the progeny of the in-demand sire, with Proisir represented by 19 yearlings in Book 1 and by 30 yearlings in Book 2.