Skyweka ready to deliver a dream result

Skyweka (Michael McNab) winning the John Turkington Forestry Duoro Cup at Trentham last January.

Skyweka (Michael McNab) winning the John Turkington Forestry Duoro Cup at Trentham last January.

How long can you hold on to a dream?

Quite a long time it seems, if Janine Wallace is to be believed. Along with her husband Les, she bred the Tony Pike-trained Skyweka, who lines up in the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie on Sunday.

“It’s taken Les and I 45 years to be an overnight success!” she said. “For us it would be our first black-type result. We’ve shared moments of great success through the family farm at Ardsley and we were there for 25 years, but this is a big deal for us.”

Those “shared” moments while involved with the Wallace family’s Ardsley Stud in the Wairarapa range from the likes of Gr.1 Australian Cup winner Kip through to Gr.1 Auckland Cup winner Titch, bred and raced by Jim Wallace snr.

What delights Wallace about the race on Sunday is that she and Les will be sharing the experience of having a runner in a stakes race with a diverse group of people – the 38-strong Galloping Wekas Syndicate.

There would also be a certain symmetry should Skyweka win the Rich Hill Mile as she is a daughter of Rich Hill Stud’s flagship stallion Pentire.

“It was 2011 and we had sent our mare Blue Hope to Pentire,” said Janine. “We were breeding in partnership with Stephen Goh, but he said he no longer wished to breed from the mare.

“Les had a terrible accident and we were wondering what we were doing to do, so we contacted John Thompson at Rich Hill and he was very understanding and enabled us to pay the service fee in installments.”

Blue Hope and her resulting foal were domiciled at Haunui Farm in Karaka when the Wallaces first set eyes on the filly.

“We loved her, but we couldn’t afford to race her on our own so we decided to gather a syndicate together,” she said.

The Galloping Wekas syndicate has its own website and Facebook page where, in addition to updates on their pride and joy’s progress, the vagaries of racing are explained for the benefit of the “newbies.”

Les and Janine’s son Joe, who along with some friends, is also in the syndicate, and he got the website up and running, but the day-to-day responsibility now falls to Janine.

“She is our Galloping Weka legend and the social media/website volunteer,” said Joe Wallace. “That information is what has made the experience for a lot of people.”

As for the syndicate name, Joe said naming it after the famously feisty native bird came about thanks to a holiday spot in the Marlborough Sounds.

“My wife and I were staying in an isolated little spot with heaps of wekas sprinting around and full of character,” he said. “There wasn’t too much thought that went into it!”

Plenty of thought, though, has gone into a tale on the website known as the Douro Chronicles. This tracks the many and varied adventures of the Douro Cup since Skyweka won the race at Trentham last January.

The trophy for the race, which for many years was renowned as the toughest hack race in the country, has been photographed with various syndicate members while attending weddings, a birthday party and playing golf. It was also the subject of a morning talk at school and even went to NZ Rugby HQ where it was pictured alongside the William Webb Ellis Cup.

A second Galloping Wekas syndicate, this one comprising 58 members, has been organised to race Morweka, a three-year-old filly by Showcasing out of Skyweka’s half-sister Spera. A third syndicate is being put together to race Skyweka’s two-year-old half-sister by Showcasing.

“A 10 per cent share costs $300 a month,” said Wallace. “We want everyone to get the joy out of racing. We have one group of five based in Hamilton who each have two per cent to make up their 10 per cent share.

“This is a tough industry and everyone gets pleasure out of everyone else’s success because we know how hard we work and what it takes to get there.

“Les and I are just thrilled to have a horse good enough to line up in a race like this and it is just so wonderful to have that connection with Rich Hill.” 

– NZ Racing Desk.