Cambridge Group One quinella

Rollout The Carpet finally got her Group One glory at Riccarton today, but it did not come without some stressful moments concerning another Cambridge filly, Waterford.

Last season the filly won the Group I Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie, then lost it in the inquiry room. And for time at Riccarton today it seemed possible it could be a case of déjà vu after the running of the Group I NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas.

Rollout The Carpet, ridden by Mark Du Plessis, and Waterford, the mount of Leith Innes, had a dogfight over the final stages of the 1600-metre feature and appeared to come together at times during the battle. The judge gave Rollout The Carpet the verdict, but before her connections could celebrate they had to undergo a protest, alleging interference by her to Waterford.

After a lengthy inquiry, the protest was dismissed and the Rollout The Carpet camp were able to head off to celebrate.

“I’m blown away,” said the delighted co-trainer Emma-Lee Browne, but that was before the siren sounded.

The win was the first at Group One level for Browne, but not for her training partner, her father Jeff McVean, who saddled up Leica Guv to win the 2001 New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie in the hands of Scott Seamer and Jungle Rocket to take the 2009 NZ Oaks at Trentham with James McDonald aboard.

Rollout The Carpet had been runner-up in her two leadups to the 1000 Guineas and her trainers went into the race confident she could succeed.

Du Plessis was thrilled to win the feature for Browne and McVean and was full of praise for Rollout The Carpet.

“She went flat on her face at the start, but quickly picked herself up,” he said.”I didn’t want to lead, but ended up there. Everytime I went for her, she gave me more. She finished it off so well.”

Waterford was game in defeat and came so close to giving Cambridge trainers Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue their second Group One success. The partners gained their first elite level win with the unbeaten Sacred Falls in last Saturday’s Sothy’s NZ 2000 Guineas at Riccarton.

Had Waterford been promoted to first today she would have given Innes the Guineas double as he is the regular rider of Sacred Falls.