3 minute read
Promising galloper Wallen produced one of the standout performances on Legends Day at Te Rapa, claiming the inaugural Sir Patrick Hogan Karapiro Classic (1600m) in sensational fashion.
The Sir Patrick Hogan Karapiro Classic was the third of the five newly-instated innovation races worth $350,000 this season, with eligible horses required to be maideners as of 31 July last year, the day before commencement of the new racing season.
Wallen , a four-year-old son of Tarzino, was a relative late-starter commencing his career in September last year, though he has impressed at each race-day appearance in finishing third on debut behind race-rival Adam I Am, before three second-placed efforts preceded his deserved maiden victory at Pukekohe in early December.
Shane Crawford, who prepares Wallen out of his Cambridge base, opted to freshen the gelding ahead of a tilt at the Karapiro Classic, where he entered the race an underrated $17 chance, in a market dominated by Adam I Am ($2.20).
Wallen jumped leisurely away from barrier seven in the hands of regular rider Ryan Elliot, who was flying high after a Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) victory aboard Legarto in the previous race.
Hastobeawinner took up the dominant front-running role down the back straight while Elliot bided his time near the tail of the 14-horse field, and passing the 800m mark, Wallen had a sizable task on his hands trapped on the fence in last.
As many runners spread wide turning for home, Elliot remained on the rail and looked to be running into the minors nearing the 100m, before Wallen showed a scintillating turn of foot to chase down a game Hastobeawinner and talented filly Vera Rose to score by a neck.
An elated Crawford admitted to a few nerves during the mid-stages of the 1600m event, while watching from afar alongside partner Kara Waters in Sydney.
"I spoke to Ryan this morning and said let's not change his pattern of racing, just ride him in a rhythm and comfortable. But, at the 800m, I was thinking 'jeez, where are we going to go from here'," he said.
"But it was a cool, calm and collected ride from Ryan, he stuck to the inside which I was happy with, and he got all the splits up the straight.
"It's a great thrill for us, certainly money-wise, and also to get the win for Russell (Warwick, General Manager at Westbury Stud) and Gerry Harvey (owner of Westbury Stud) is just huge.
"I'm just gutted that Kara and I are over in Sydney at the moment for the sales, not able to be there to enjoy the moment."
Crawford had initially hoped to contest the first innovation race, the $350,000 The Oaks Stud Remutaka Classic (1600m) at Trentham with Wallen, however changed those plans when his rating wasn't going to be high enough for him to make the field.
"We had the Remutaka in sight originally, but we realised his rating wouldn't get him in, so we thought we may be a better chance of freshening him up and going for this race. It had been on our radar for a while," he said.
"It was a great effort today with six weeks between runs, but I think another key was putting the blinkers on."
While contemplating a spell, Crawford indicated he may consider targeting the $350,000 Rangitoto Classic (1500m) on Derby Day at Ellerslie on March 2, for horses prepared by trainers outside of the Top 10 in domestic stakes earnings.
"After winning today, we seriously will give some thought to the innovation race on Derby Day, but he has been up a long time, probably a spell would be a possibility as well. We'll discuss it with Russell Warwick and see what the plan's going to be."
Wallen carried the familiar blue-and-white silks of breeder and owner Gerry Harvey, who was represented by Warwick at Te Rapa.
The victory was one of sentimental value for Warwick, a former employee at Cambridge Stud, as the race was named in honour of the late Sir Patrick Hogan, an incredible figure of the New Zealand racing and breeding industry.
"That was fantastic, these races are pipedreams, and it's great for Entain, TAB and NZTR to be able to put a race on like this. The Sir Patrick insignia on this race also makes it very special for me," Warwick said.
"Shane and Kara have done an amazing job with this horse. He was probably just about at the end of his preparation, but Shane thought he could get him to this race with a freshen-up and putting the blinkers on.
"Supplemented by a great ride by Ryan, it was superb. I thought (about Ryan) 'you've just won on Legarto so you're up high now", and we just hoped he could do it for us too, but he was going to need a lot of luck at the 600m for sure. To get up and win was just fairy-tale stuff.
"He's been up since October, and we think he'll be even better next season getting up over a trip."