It is very important for a stud farm to get a group I win under their horse, so when New Zealand’s Wellfield Stud decided to send its classy 4-year-old to Australia, it was done so with a wing and a very large prayer.
“To win group I's in New Zealand is like winning at the Commonwealth Games. To succeed with a stallion back in New Zealand, you really need to come to Australia which is like winning an Olympic Games gold medal for Kiwi breeders. So we sent Alamosa across a few months back and crossed our fingers,” explained Wellfield’s boss Bill Gleeson.
And so it was the fairy tale or big gamble in sending a Kiwi horse to compete in Australia came to pass when Alamosa (O’Reilly--Lodore Mystic by Centaine) stormed home from eighth at the bend to win the group I Toorak Handicap over a mile at Caulfield October 11. He finished in the center of the track about 10 horses off the rail and his final burst was spectacular.
The $350,000 race gave $210,000 of it to the winning connections who cared little about the prize money. It was the Aussie group I moniker they were after and now they have it, the world’s their oyster.
“It is so important for Kiwi breeding to have an Aussie group I winner standing over there and we now have. What he does hence forth is icing in the cake,” added Gleeson.
Alamosa was ridden a perfect race by jockey Craig Newitt. He drew barrier 14 in the field of 17 but Newitt had him across and with cover one off the fence and then three-wide when he started his run with four furlongs to go.
“He jumped beautifully and he settled nicely,” explained Newitt. “He has been just a length or so off the A grade horses in Australia at weight for age level in his three starts here since arriving, but at handicap level he really was beautifully placed and that was a very impressive run.”
Newitt double-pumped his fist as they crossed the line because he knew how important this win was for the connections.
Trainer Mick Price was delighted too. “Because the field was so big I think actually sitting out three deep out of trouble was a good move. Look, this is a very good horse and he really tried his heart out in this. I am so happy for him and his connections as this means so much to them.”
Second home was Gai Waterhouse’s rising star Rockwood (Rock Of Gibraltar--Foxwood) who scrambled into the field when a few were scratched prior to the start. He was the first alternate if there was a scratch and his effort when ridden by Steven King was commendable as it was just his eighth start in a race.
He sat back in third spot throughout and fought on gamely to grab second just in front of Pillar Of Hercules (Rock Of Gibraltar-Coat) who was up there battling away in the field of 17 throughout.
Alamosa’s owners now will choose between stepping him up to wfa grade in the upcoming WS Cox Plate over 10 furlongs at Moonee Valley in two weeks. It is worth $4million. The other option is the group I handicap over a mile called the Emirates Stakes worth $500,000.
“I’d prefer he stay in the handicaps,” said his trainer Mick Price. “But it’s up to his owners as to where he’ll go.”
Alamosa has earned $871,600 and has now won group I races in both Australia and New Zealand. It was his 21st start and his 10th win.
“He is a top class miler and would take a lot of beating in the Emirates,” smiled Price almost willing his owners to go in that direction.