From the Commentary Box 21 March 2016

You had to feel sorry for the connections of SOFIA ROSA at Trentham last Saturday.

Just moments after the Stephen Marsh trained filly had narrowly prevailed in a thrilling finish to the Group One Wellfield New Zealand Oaks, the siren sounded, indicating a judicial enquiry.

Connections of the runner up, Te Awamutu filly FANATIC, were adamant their chances were affected by interference caused by SOFIA ROSA over the concluding stages. The JCA panel agreed with them as twenty tension packed minutes later, SOFIA ROSA was officially relegated behind FANATIC.

FANATIC was ridden by Cambridge based jockey Mark Hills who never doubted there would be a change of placings. “SOFIA ROSA veered out onto my filly over the last 50m and with the margin being only a nose, I was confident of getting the decision,“ said Hills. Hills has gained a reputation as a longshot Group One jockey.

FANATIC, trained by Graeme Sanders and Debbie Sweeney, returned odds of more than $60 to win. Two previous wins at the elite level by Hills came aboard 100 to 1 outsiders.

“I won a Thorndon Mile on MACHAVELLIAN MISS and a Railway on JACOWILS and both paid over a $100 to win” said Hills.

For SOFIA ROSA’S connections the relegation was obviously disappointing.

Trainer Stephen Marsh was philosophical afterwards. “It’s never nice to lose any race in the judicial room, let alone a Group One, but at least SOFIA ROSA won the NZ Filly of the Year series,” said Marsh. With the points earned from her eventual second placing, SOFIA ROSA topped the points table in the final race of the series.

There has been two enquiries in Group One races in recent weeks and personally I’m comfortable the right decision was made in both cases.

Marsh did gain some compensation when SANTIAGO scored a minor upset over 1600m. Ridden by Danielle Johnson, SANTIAGO overhauled the pacemaker IN ANOTHER LIFE over the final stages to win by nearly two lengths.

The Baker/Forsman team were also successful at Trentham with CHARMONT and LUNA ROSSA both justifying inspired support to score emphatic victories. The stable also enjoyed success at Te Rapa with OKANAGAN, prevailing with Craig Grylls aboard.

Also successful at Te Rapa were FIRST HONOUR, for Trevor and Martin Cruz, and ROMANTIC MAID for Roger James. ROMANTIC MAID looks a filly with a very promising future. It was her second win from two starts and it won’t be her last I kid you not.

Finally, what a great weekend for Cambridge Stud based stallion TAVISTOCK. Hard on the heels of VOLKSTOK’N’BARRELL’S Group One win at Ellerslie a week ago, TAVISTOCK sired two more Group One winners on the international scene.
TARZINO ensured favouritism in the ATC Australian Derby when winning the Rosehill Guineas at Rosehill on Saturday. That victory was usurped by former Kiwi galloper WERTHER’S win in the prestigious Hong Kong Derby at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Looks like Sir Patrick Hogan has found another super sire.

TAVISTOCK has a long way to go to even be mentioned in the same breath as SIR TRISTRAM and ZABEEL, but gee he’s heading in the right direction.

I’ll catch you next week.