Visiting northern trainer Ken Rae kicked off his day at Riccarton in the best possible style when promising galloper Eva James cruised to a comfortable victory. The Super Easy filly went south off the back of two impressive performances at Te Rapa in July behind the highly-regarded De La Terre and looked to have a class edge on her rivals in the 1200m three-year-old contest.
Rider Samantha Wynne bounced Eva James straight to the front from a midfield barrier where she dictated terms throughout before easing clear to win under a hold by three lengths from stablemate Zoltan, who chased her gamely in the run home. “She’s been placed up north behind some very smart horses so we had expected a good run,” Rae, who prepares his team in partnership with daughter Krystal Williams-Tuhoro, said.
“Last start she had De La Terre beaten at the 300m but she got up to pip us. People said we were unlucky but she was just beaten by a better horse that day. “She (Eva James) is a true professional though and she did things perfectly today while the other fellow (Zoltan) is still a big goof, who does things wrong. “I said to Sam to just jump her out and lead as she will just pull herself up when she gets there and will travel kindly. “She did just that and there was a fair bit of gas left in the tank at the end.”
Rae, who has brought a substantial team south due to the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 lockdown in the Auckland region, has his sights set on a tilt at the Group 1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) with Eva James. “I think she can get a mile and if she is going to do that it will be against her own sex and age,” he said. “There are plenty of races we can look at now she is down here and if I don’t think she will get the mile of the Guineas we can drop her back and look at a race like the Steward’s Stakes (Group 3, 1200m).
“We’ve brought eighteen horses south and will be staying down here until Cup Week in November. “They race here every two weeks so it is a massive savings on things like float fees and the like. “I’ve just got tired of all the travelling and the restrictions so we can base ourselves down here and take the opportunities on offer.”
Bred by Auckland Racing Club Director Daniel Nakhle and his father Elias, Eva James is out of four-race winner Imperial Miss and has now won twice and been placed three times from her five career starts.
Rae added to his winning tally later in the day as underrated sprinter Gigolo George caused a minor upset when taking out a rating 92 1200m contest by a nose in a blanket finish.