Cambridge trainer Daniel Miller was quick to add a second stakes level victory to the black type account he opened on Wednesday when La Romanee overcame a tardy start to strike gold in the Listed Barneswood Farm Welcome Stakes (1000m) at Riccarton.
Miller produced Sheezallmine to charge to victory in the Group 3 Stewards Stakes Handicap (1200m) on Wednesday for his first success at group level and backed that feat up with La Romanee who, like Sheezallmine, is raced by Miller’s parents John and Maree.
A $22,500 purchase by John Miller from the Brighthill Farm Book 2 draft at Karaka in January, the Burgundy gelding was a narrow winner on the course back in October over 800m at just his second start. That performance saw him installed as the third favourite for Saturday’s contest although his supporters had their hearts in their mouths shortly after the gates opened when he cannoned into Lovebug and Follow Your Heart and dropped to a conspicuous last.
Rider Samantha Wynne didn’t panic as she settled La Romanee into a good rhythm before asking him to make his move as the widest on the home bend. La Romanee quickly dashed to the leaders before drawing clear in the final 100m to score by a length from Showemhowitsdone and Ohio Showgirl.
Wynne was delighted to have delivered on the confidence that Miller had shown leading into the contest despite the messy beginning to the race. “We got into a sandwich at the start but in the end it did us a favour,” she said. “Daniel had been very confident on how much he had improved so I’m delighted to get him across the line as it was a strong win. “Onwards and upwards for this fella and a bit more ground won’t do him any harm.”
Miller was still coming to terms with the achievement as he waited for his charge in the Riccarton birdcage. “It’s been a week to remember and one I don’t think I will forget anytime soon,” he said. “Full credit to Mum and Dad as they went up to Karaka as little fish in a big pond. They liked the look of this one and they bought him out of the ring. “From the get-go he has always shown a lot of ability, although he does plenty wrong, so I think he can go a long way once he knows what he is doing.”
Miller was quick to admit he had been anticipating the tardy start by his charge who has had his issues in that area. “I wasn’t surprised at the start when he got back as he is not that good away from the gates and always seems to be getting bumped,” Miller said. “You could see Sam had a handful of horse coming across the chute so I was confident 200m out.”
Eligible for the $1m Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie in late January, the victory will ensure a start in the rich two-year-old dash for La Romanee who will now rise to the top of the current order of entry for the event.