Kelly’s consolation for close call in Easter

The Pike family missed Group One glory by a mere half-head with Chintz in the Manco Easter Handicap at Ellerslie yesterday, but they did have an earlier cause for celebration.

Co-trainer Tony Pike and his parents Wayne and Vicki bred and race Chintz, who fought like a tiger when second to Albany Reunion, and Kelly O’Reilly, who scored a decisive win in the Barfoot & Thompson 1400.

Kelly O’Reilly was originally among the entries for the Manco Easter Handicap but, as she would have ended up on the ballot list at best, the decision was made to switch to the Rating 85 sprint. And the manner of her win in the lesser event proved she would not have been out of place tackling the open-company runners in the Easter.

Ridden by Leith Innes, Kelly O’Reilly went to the line a length and three-quarters clear of the runner-up Speech Craft to register her sixth win from 17 starts and take her stake earnings to almost $80,000.

Kelly O’Reilly’s previous win had been at Te Rapa over 1600 metres last November and she had raced just three further times leading into yesterday’s event. Her latest lead-up run was at Tauranga over 1300 metres when she was slow away and ran on strongly for sixth to In Style, who wound up fifth in yesterday’s race.

“He run at Tauranga was a little but uncharacteristic, missing the kick like that,” said Pike. “She normally jumps out well.

“Ideally we want some black-type with her so she’ll probably go to the weight-for-age Listed fillies and mares race at Rotorua (May 10).”

While obviously disappointed at Chintz not gaining a deserved Group One win, Pike was thrilled with the mare’s performance.

“She’s gone down a pencil-line,” he said. “She went absolutely super. She tried her heart out.”

Chintz is likely to be given a well-earned spell, though there is an outside chance she might have one further start, in the Gr. 2 Travis Stakes at Te Rapa on April 26.