Money well spent at casino

One $1000 outlay at the Christchurch Casino came up trumps at Matamata today for owner Peter Grieve.

Grieve is a part-owner of the Cambridge mare Chapinta, who cleared out for a six and a half-length win in the Mitavite 1600 at the Matamata meeting.

Chapinta began her career in the South Island from the stables of Neil Ridley, but after three trials for one placing as a three-year-old she was quit by her owner.

“Peter bought her for $1000 when he was at the casino,” said Craig Thornton, who prepares the daughter of High Chapparal. “Corrina McDougal had her for him for a while and they just gave up on the horse and she was out in a paddock for a long time.”

Grieve then came up with the idea of trying her as a jumper and sent her to Thornton, a former top jumps jockey. And by that time Grieve knew he had a valuable mare, not only because she is by High Chapparal, but also the fact she is a half-sister to last year’s VRC Derby winner Sangster, who is prepared at Cambridge by Trent Busuttin and his fiancée Natalie Young.

“I was just told to school her up as a jumper and she’s been with me for about three or four months,” said Thornton. “She’s been out at Ann Browne’s places jumping for two days.”

Grieve took his friend, Invercargill accountant Barry Thomas, into the ownership of Chapinta and the five-year-old mare made her northern debut when second at the Te Awamutu trials last month.

“I ended up having to run her in an open heat even though she was a maiden and she surprised me by finishing second to Enyaar,” said Thornton.

Chapinta then made her raceday debut at Te Awamutu 12 days later and was an encouraging sixth over 1560 metres. And on the strength of that performance she was expected to go well today, but what she did even surprised Thornton.

“I didn’t expect her to win like that,” said Thornton. “She jumps good, but I don’t think she’ll be liking up in a jumps race for a while. She could win more on the flat.”