Zee Falls finds winning groove in Karaka Cup

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After coming so close in countless feature races, talented staying mare Zee Falls had a deserved moment in the spotlight when scoring a convincing victory in the Karaka Cup (2200m) at Pukekohe on Saturday.

Prepared by Stephen Marsh, the five-year-old daughter of Sacred Falls has now recorded three wins, four seconds and five thirds from her 26 starts, and will be aimed at some black-type options as the broodmare paddock beckons.

Zee Falls was a black-type winner early in her three-year-old season, taking out the Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) at Otaki in just her fourth career start.

But she was forced to play supporting roles through the rest of her three and four-year-old campaigns, finishing eighth in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), second in the Group 2 Waikato Guineas (2000m), fourth in the Group 2 Lowland Stakes (2100m), sixth in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m), second in the Group 3 Manawatu Cup (2250m), third in the Group 3 City of Auckland Cup (2400m) and third in the Listed Anzac Mile (1550m).

Until Saturday’s breakthrough, her five-year-old season had brought more of the same – fourth in the Listed Staphanos Classic (1950m), second in the Listed Feilding Gold Cup (2100m), fourth in the Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m), sixth in the Group 3 Waikato Cup (2400m) and a last-start third in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2400m).

But Saturday was finally her day. Slotted into a beautiful midfield position by world-class visiting Australian jockey Damian Lane, Zee Falls was doing everything with ease as she cruised into striking position approaching the home turn.

Lane went for gold in the straight and Zee Falls responded, charging past the front-running Sagunto and opening up a clear lead. She began to tire in the last 150m, but held all challengers at bay and scored by three-quarters of a length from Contemplation with race favourite Tutukaka finishing third.

“It was a brilliant result. She’s been running such good races in all of those big Cups, and we just thought this would be a beautiful race for her. It was awesome to have a world-class rider like Damian Lane aboard, and he rode her perfectly,” Marsh said.

“I’m thrilled for the owners. She’s a lovely mare, and she’ll make a lovely broodmare in time. She might end up being sold a bit later in the year for her breeding career, but a race like the Travis Stakes (Group 2, 2000m) for fillies and mares at Te Rapa might be a nice one to aim at before that happens.

“We might then head to Brisbane and possibly sell her on the Gold Coast.”

Zee Falls was bought for $130,000 at Karaka 2019 from the Book 1 draft of Waikato Stud, who will offer a half-brother by Tivaci (Lot 5) at Karaka 2023 next week.

Four win stablemate Tina Again, in foal to Sword Of State, has been retired to the broodmare paddock after trailing the field home in the Group 2 Westbury Classic (1400m).

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