Lady Chaparral upsets Group One “King”

Fate played into the hands of the Lady Chaparral camp at Tauranga yesterday when she shocked punters by dowing the raging hot favourite Mufhasa.

As a last-start winner of the Group I Toorak Handicap at Caulfield last month, Mufhasa was considered unbeatable in the Tauranga feature, the Group III Stella Artois Tauranga Stakes, but the “unthinkable” happened as the Cambridge-trained mare Lady Chaparral, ridden by Danielle Johnson, powered past New Zealand’s champion sprinter-miler to record an upset win.

Taking into consideration the records of both horses going into the Tauranga Classic — Mufhasa had won seven Group One races and over $2.6 million in prizemoney whereas Lady Chaparral had three wins and $55,000 in stakes — it was hard to imagine the result which occurred.

However, such was the finishing burst of Lady Chaparral out wide that at the winning post she was a length and three-quarters in front of Mufhasa to whom she was getting just a 2kg advantage in the weights.

If all had gone according to plan Lady Chaparral would have been in Christchurch for the week rather than at Tauranga yesterday.

“She was going to run in the Rating 90 races down there and was booked to fly down last Friday (week), but she got a stone bruise the night before and we had to can the trip,” said trainer Chris Wood. “There was no other suitable race for her so I put her in this one. I thought she could run in the money, but no way did I think she would beat Mufhasa.”

Rider Danielle Johnson was equally surprised when Lady Chaparaal sailed past Mufhasa in the dying stages of the Tauranga Classic. And so thrilled was Johnson that she pointed across to the crowd with her finger a stride or two from the finish, a minor act of celebration which cost her a $200 fine.

Lady Chaparral is raced by her breeders, John and Shirley Goodman, who have been long-time owners. Among the many good horses they have raced is The Filbert, a Waikato Cup winner who was third in the  memorable Cox Plate fight-out between   Bonecrusher and Waverley Star.

Lady Chaparral, a daughter of High Chaparral and Images, started her career with Matamata trainer Corrina Young and showed much promise from the outset. She picked up three placings in her first five starts then after winning a maiden at Te Aroha she recorded her second win two starts later.

One of her best efforts was a fifth behind Juice in last year’s Group I NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha and she was also fifth in one of the Cambridge Jockey Club features, the Group II Travis Stakes behind Ekstreme. Her third win from Young’s stable came at Te Aroha when beating the Cambridge mare Appleton’s Lass.

Lady Chaparral has had eight starts from Wood’s stable and had picked up three placings before breaking through in fine style yesterday.

The next stop for Lady Chaparral is likely to be a trip to Trentham later this month for the Group I Captain Cook Stakes and her opposition there will again include Mufhasa.