Every country has its favorite mare, and the crowds who watch and bet on races in that locale always rally behind her.
In New Zealand, nothing is different. Its popular lass is a mare named Seachange, whose unruly but highly effective galloping action has seen her win five New Zealand group I races thus far. She throws her right leg out in a circular motion so badly that her breeders, The Oaks Stud, didn't even both to offer her for sale as a yearling.
On Oct. 27 at Trentham racecourse in Wellington, she was lining up to win her sixth top going, and punters across New Zealand and Australia backed her as though she were unbeatable. At the halfway stage of the one-mile affair in the Captain Cook Stakes (NZ-I), those punters were chuckling to themselves.
Sir Slick, a grand Kiwi campaigner, was setting solid fractions out in front and was being kept honest by Delbrae up on his outside. Seachange was singing a song, biding her time as she cantered along in third spot just off the pace on the rails. The NZ$200,000 race looked hers for the taking.
When they turned for home, her rider, Gavin McKeon, released the breaks, stirred her up, and she accelerated out after Sir Slick. She had him covered in the twinkling of an eye. With a furlong-and-a-half to travel, McKeon had a lap full of horse and a smile on his face.
But so did Hayden Tinsley, who was riding the champion New Zealand 3-year-old of last season, Dorabella (by Postponed). She was in sixth spot when they straightened, and Tinsley moved her out to the center of the big Trentham racecourse to issue his challenge. The brisk early pace helped as Dorabella came home out wide with a blistering finish to win.
"We have always known she was very talented," said her trainer after the race. "But we have had trouble getting her right this preparation and her effort here today was so pleasing, as she is just now starting to really find her legs again. I cannot put into words how happy I am now that she has returned to form."
Seachange was gallant but well beaten in second nearly three lengths back.
"She traveled nicely but when I let her down, she didn't find much and raced home the last little bit like a tired horse who now needs a spell," said McKeon.
To make it an all-female clean sweep, low-weight Porotene Gem, ridden by Lisa Cropp, charged home late to nab Sir Slick on the wire for third.
Ridden by Tinsley, one of New Zealand's best jockeys, winning Dorabella paid $16.50 for every $1 invested. The time for the mile and a few yards race was 1.34.50, equal to the best Captain Cook ever run.