Local first-starter sparkles in Trophy

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Hastings filly Shezzacatch was thrown in at the deep end for her debut in Saturday’s Listed El Roca-Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m), and she spectacularly rose to the occasion.

After a placing in a Foxton trial earlier this month, trainers Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen considered a couple of options for kicking off her racing career. They could point her towards a midweek maiden at Woodville on September 24, or they could stay at home and tackle a classy line-up of youngsters in Saturday’s feature.

Having seen a glimpse of something special in the Savabeel filly at home, they opted for the latter. The gamble paid off. With some big reputations among the talented three-year-olds who converged on Hastings for the opening day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival, Shezzacatch was overlooked at $36. But she burst out of obscurity with a brilliant performance.

“That was a nice finish,” Lowry said. “We’re not surprised by that performance, although she still doesn’t know much really, and she’s been a real handful. The trial the other day was the best she’s ever behaved, and she’s continued to improve since then. She’ll learn a lot more from this as well.

“We were looking at a maiden race at Woodville next Thursday, but we were worried about the possibility of not getting a start there. So we decided to come here today. On a good track, with a good jockey, it’s all worked out.”

Ridden by Craig Grylls, Shezzacatch settled in a midfield position for most of the race. With 200 metres to run, she was still fifth and more than three lengths behind as Suffused and Alchemia appeared to be fighting out a two-horse finish. But then Shezzacatch unleashed a dazzling turn of foot, charging to the front and winning by three-quarters of a length.

“She was first-up and had only had the one trial, but Guy did tell me that she could gallop,” Grylls said. “We got shuffled back a little bit turning for home, but then I really felt her come up underneath me. Gee, she had a good turn of foot late. She’s got a very bright future.”

Shezzacatch was bred by Tony Rider, who shares ownership with Guy and Bridgid Lowry, Paul and Maree Apatu, Grant and Ali Syminton, Sam and Anna Wood and John and Diane Bongard. The El Roca-Sir Colin Meads Trophy was the first leg of a black-type double for Rider’s three-year-old fillies on Saturday, with Miss Aotearoa adding the Group 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) later in the afternoon.

Shezzacatch is out of the O’Reilly mare Elusive Nature, who is a half-sister to the Lowry and Cullen-trained Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) placegetter Savvy Dreams. Like her, Lowry believes Shezzacatch will be suited to longer distances in the weeks and months ahead. However, she is not currently nominated for the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November.

“She’ll definitely go a lot further than 1200 metres,” Lowry said. “I think she’ll be good over a mile in time. “The plan was always to put her out for ten days afterwards and that is what we will do. “Longer term a race like the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) could be an option or we could just send her to Australia and leave her there.”

The El Roca-Sir Colin Meads Trophy was elevated to black-type status in 2017 and has been a springboard to bigger and bigger things for the likes of previous winners Bostonian (2017) and Catalyst (2019). Loire, who finished third last year, went on to win the New Zealand 1000 Guineas.

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