Hastings trainer Guy Lowry had plenty to celebrate about following Candle’s impressive debut win at Wanganui last Saturday.
Lowry not only co-trains the horse with Grant Cullen but he is also the breeder and owner of the promising three-year-old filly.
Candle was taking on race winners when she lined for the first time in the $30,000 Platinum Homes Three-year-old (1200m) but the Lowry/Cullen stable is not afraid of racing their horses out of their grade if they think they are good enough. They produced first starter Shezzacatch to take out the Listed $50,000 El Roca-Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m) at Hastings in September last year.
Candle had shown good potential with a second in a 1000m Woodville trial on November 3 followed by a strong win in another 1000m trial at Foxton on November 16 and Lowry was confident of a bold performance from the filly first up.
Experienced jockey Darryl Bradley jumped the daughter of Super Easy out well from the barrier and had her enjoying a perfect trail behind the leaders. He angled the filly into the clear at the top of the home straight and then allowed her to balance up before setting out after the pacemaking Usurer.
The latter still had a good advantage entering the last 100m but Candle stretched out well over the final stages to get up and snatch a nose victory right on the line.
Candle is out of the No Excuse Needed mare Flare, who was unplaced in her only race start. Her first foal was Flaming Torch, a full-sister to Candle who had one start from the Lowry/Cullen stable for a second before he was sold to Australia.
Lowry now has a Nadeem two-year-old gelding and an Embellish yearling colt out of Flare coming on and the mare is now in-foal to Time Test.
Candle was given a few easy days after her impressive first up win but was back undergoing pacework at the Hastings track on Tuesday and Lowry will now look for a suitable Rating 65 race for the filly.
Makkaldee starting to grow up
Hawke’s Bay trainer and jockey Kate Hercock says her latest winner Makkaldee is still a big baby at heart but does have the potential to be a good horse in time.
The four-year-old Jakkalberry gelding broke through for a maiden win over 1400m at Otaki on Thursday last week and it came as a bit of a surprise after the horse had only managed ninth out of 13 runners on debut over 1300m at Awapuni last month.
Makkaldee is one of eight horses Hercock has in work on her Otane property as she juggles a training career with also being a full-time jockey.
She says Makkaldee has always shown some ability but has been “big and dumb” and has just needed time to get it all together.
“He had a few jumpouts early on but always seemed get about half-way up the straight and then pull up,” Hercock said.
“He won an 850-metre Foxton trial in September and then finished ninth in his first start at Awapuni, but the track was shifty that day and he didn’t know where to put his feet.
“He’s a horse that needs good ground and still doesn’t know much yet.”
With Hercock serving out a suspension the ride on Makkaldee at Otaki last week went to in-form jockey Sam Weatherley.
The horse dwelt at the start and settled fourth last on the inside in the early stages. Weatherley angled him away from the rail to urge him forward coming to the home turn and then switched back to the inside to get clear running early in the home straight.
Makkaldee looked likely to only fill a minor placing with 100m to run but really lifted in the final few strides, stretching his neck out to win by half a head.
Hercock said she didn’t want to question Weatherley too much as he dismounted from Makkaldee as she knew he had been wasting hard to ride at 54kg that day but she texted him later that day and was pleased with the reply.
“Sam said he is a horse that will go through the grades but just needs time. I think we’ll give him another couple of runs and then turn him out for a spell,” Hercock added.
Makkaldee is owned by his Hawke’s Bay breeders Julian and Mary Aitken and Andrew and Rachael Ritchie and is out of the now deceased Cape Cross mare Pebble, who was the winner of five races.
Hercock said she also trained an older full-sister to Makkaldee called Miss Marmo but she showed nothing in two starts.
“She just couldn’t cope and wasn’t a good eater while this horse is just the opposite. He just eats and eats,” Hercock said.
She said Makkaldee could now head back to Otaki on December 15 for a Rating 65 race over 1400m.
Hercock’s suspension ended yesterday and she was booked for seven rides at today’s Wellington meeting at Trentham.
Makkaldee stretches his neck out to gain a narrow victory in a close four-horse finish in a 1400m maiden race at Otaki last week.
Probabeel Horse of the Year
It was a night for the mares when Probabeel took the New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year honours for the 2020-21 season.
The results were announced at a virtual event screened on Trackside last Monday night.
Probabeel gained just over half over of the 57 votes cast when heading off her Matamata stablemates Avantage and Melody Belle for the top award. It was a trifecta for mares and for trainer Jamie Richards and Te Akau Racing.
It is the fifth successive year that a mare has been named the NZ Horse of the Year, following doubles by Melody Belle and Bonneval.
Probabeel, who was also named Champion Sprinter-Miler, gained 29 votes for Horse of the Year, with 14 for Avantage and 10 for Melody Belle. Champion Three-Year-Old Aegon earned three votes, with one for Amarelinha, another from the Te Akau stable.
Probabeel, a $380,000 yearling buy, is raced by Cambridge Stud proprietors Brendan and Jo Lindsay, who were also named Owners of the Years. The Lindsay partnership had three individual Group I winners during the season – the other being NZ One Thousand Guineas winner Khama Lass; and a share-holding in Champion Two-Year-Old Sword of State – and seven Group-placed runners.
The other winners in the horse categories were Aegon (Champion Three-Year-Old), Melody Belle (middle-distance), The Chosen One (stayer) and The Cossack (jumper).
Premiership winner Danielle Johnson was voted Jockey of the Year and Shaun Fannin was Jumps Jockey of the Year.
Jamie Richards’ achievements as head of the Te Akau team were such that he was the sole nominee for Trainer of the Year, as was the case the previous season. He established new records for a New Zealand trainer in terms of wins, stake earnings and black-type wins.
Richards prepared the winners of three of the five HOY categories for flat horses, with the other two coming from the Murray Baker-Andrew Forsman team.
A big night for Te Akau Racing was completed when Ashley Handley, who was responsible for the day-to-day care of Probabeel during her Australian campaigns, was named Stablehand of the Year.
The Contribution to Media, Digital & Content award recognised Andre Neill’s passion project, Racing This Time. The judges acknowledging that Neill captured the raw emotion of a race’s aftermath, be it a Group race or a mid-week maiden.
The NZTR Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Racing went to Waikato identity David Smith.
Smith, the founder of the Dunstan Horse Feeds company, has also made a lengthy contribution as an administrator, including 11 years as Waikato Racing Club Chairman, and been prominent as an owner and breeder.
Probabeel did all her racing in the 2020-21 season in Australia and measured up in top company in both her spring and autumn campaigns. The Savabeel mare was a Group I winner in Sydney and Melbourne and recorded four wins – all in the Group company – and two seconds from eight starts. No other New Zealand-trained horse won a Group I race in Australia during the season.
Probabeel won the Group I Epsom Handicap in Sydney and the Group I weight-for-age Futurity Stakes in Melbourne. She ended her four-year-old campaign when second, beaten a short-head, in the Group I Queen of the Turf Stakes. She has already franked that form in the new season, with two wins, including the Group I Caulfield Stakes, at the Melbourne spring carnival, taking her career earnings to $4.5 million.
Avantage, who was retired after one start in the new season, achieved the rare feat of winning five Group I races during the 2020-21 season, with an overall record of six wins, three seconds and a third from 10 starts.
However, Avantage did all her racing for the season at home and Probabeel’s feats in Australia were ranked higher in voting for both Horse of the Year and the sprinter-miler category. The margin was significant in both instances, with Probabeel earning 37 votes in the sprinter-miler category compared to 18 for Avantage.
Melody Belle, who has also finished her race career, won four Group I races in the 2020-21 term season and was placed in the Mackinnon Stakes in Melbourne. It was not enough to earn her a third Horse of the Year title, but she dominated the voting for the middle-distance category.
The Chosen One was voted Stayer of the Year for the second successive season, comfortably heading off Auckland and Waikato Cups winner Ocean Billy. The Chosen One was a winner at the Melbourne spring carnival but more significantly ran third in the Caulfield Cup and fourth in the Melbourne Cup.
Aegon, who gained 51 of the 57 votes for Champion Three-Year-Old, was unbeaten from four starts in New Zealand, including the Two Thousand Guineas and was a Group II winner in Sydney.
Sword Of State, a runaway winner of the Group I Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie, took the two-year-old award over stablemate and Karaka Million winner On The Bubbles.
Hawke’s Bay owned and trained The Cossack began the season as a maiden jumper but ended it ranked as New Zealand’s leading hurdler. He had five wins and a third from six starts over fences, with wins in the Great Northern Hurdle, Wellington Hurdle and Waikato Hurdle.