Lady Cumquat rekindles memories of Peter Pan

The colours made famous in the 1930s by the champion Australian galloper Peter Pan were carried to victory by Cambridge filly Lady Cumquat in the Gr. 3 Higgins Manawatu Classic at Awapuni yesterday.

Lady Cumquat became the second horse to successfully carry the orange and green-hooped colours in New Zealand following the win of her year older half-brother Zaberto at Ellerslie earlier this month. And in both cases it was instant success for the colours.

The colours were auctioned for charity in Melbourne in August 2002 and the successful bidder was Sydney-based Tony Wales, who races Lady Cumquat and Zaberto in partnership with his long-time friends, Peter Newsom and Mac Whitehouse.

 “Tony originally bought them as memorabilia but last year he said he wouldn’t mind registering them,” explained Westbury Stud’s Russell Warwick, manager of the New Zealand racing interests of the three partners who race their horses together.

Peter Pan, who has been inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame, raced in the early 1930s during the Great Depression and he became a household name alongside the legendary Phar Lap.

Foaled in 1929, Peter Pan had 36 starts in his illustrious career for 23 wins and became famous for winning the Melbourne Cup twice (1932 and 1934). He won the Melbourne (now MacKinnon) Stakes – Melbourne Cup double both years and his other wins included the Rawson (now Ranvet) Stakes, AJC Plate (now Queen Elizabeth Stakes), All-Aged Stakes and AJC St. Leger.

Though only ever dreaming of getting a horse of the calibre of Peter Pan, Lady Cumquat’s owners have enjoyed plenty of success over the years.

Newsom bred the multiple Group One winner Sedecrem and NZ Derby runner-up Mount Street, whom he raced with Whitehouse and Wales, and also bred the stakes winners Full of Spirit (a half-sister to Zaberto), El Roca, and Destruction and is now enjoying the excitement of breeding Zaberto and Lady Cumquat.

One of the early success stories in New Zealand for Newsom and Whitehouse was the ill-fated Gold City, whom they bred and raced from the Matamata stable of Ray and Sharon Johnson. Gold City won eight races, four on each side of the Tasman, and was narrowly beaten by Octagonal in the Gr. 1 Australian Cup.

Lady Cumquat is prepared at Cambridge by Roger James, who won four races with Full Of Spirit, whose best win came as a three-year-old in the 2012 Gr. 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) at Randwick. And now James is keen to attempt to win the Adrian Know Stakes with Lady Cumquat.

A daughter of Duke Of Marmalade, Lady Cumquat has been patiently handled by James and broke through for her first win in her fourth start when stepped up to 1600 metres at Tauranga last November. She was then freshened and resumed with a strong-finishing second to Dresden Park over 1400 at Ellerslie before a third to Rough Copy on Derby Day, again at Ellerslie.

Despite contesting 2000 metres for the first time, Lady Cumquat was installed favourite yesterday and she didn’t let her supporters down, finishing strongly to score by two lengths from fellow Cambridge galloper Mountain Jack.

Lady Cumquat has been ridden in each of her last four starts by Rory Hutchings, who was thrilled to win a feature on the promising filly.

“Roger could have taken me off but he’s stuck by me and to get a stakes win for him felt great,” said Hutchings, who rode a patient and well-judged race.

James is making a habit of winning features races multiple times and climbing to the top of that list is the Manawatu Classic.

James has won the Gr. 1 NZ Derby on five occasions and he picked up his fifth win in the Gr. 1 Lindauer NZ Stakes with his latest Derby winner, Silent Achiever, earlier this month at Ellerslie. A race earlier on that same day he celebrated his 1000th New Zealand win with The Tidy Express.

James had also won the Manawatu Classic on five occasions and, even though it is only a Group Three race compared to the other Group One highlights, he was delighted when he picked up his sixth win in the event with Lady Cumquat at Awapuni yesterday.

The first Manawatu Classic win for James came in 1985 with Majestic Angel when he was training in partnership with Jim Gibbs. He then won it in 1998 with the Gary Harding-owned Limerick and two years later he saddled up Spottswoode to take the honours. Congrats, in 2006, and Valpolicella, two years later, took his tally to five.