Waterford impresses fresh-up

Waterford is already being earmarked for a Group Two Ellerslie feature after scoring an impressive fresh-up win on the course today in the $30,000 The Rock 1200.

Co-trainer Tony Pike revealed after Waterford’s win she could be back at Ellerslie on Boxing Day for the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile.  “It could be a good race for her,” said Pike, who trains in partnership with Mark Donoghue.

Having her first start since finishing unplaced in the Gr. 3 Doomben Roses in Queensland last May, Waterford went into today’s event with the benefit of just one Cambridge trial over 950 metres when third behind Barbaric.

Pike admitted before the race he was worried the 1200 metres would be “a touch short” for Waterford, but he was glad to be proved wrong.

Ridden by Leith Innes, Waterford trailed sixth, three-back on the fence, as Sweet Suitor made the pace with Alvesta, Airman and Little Wonder in close attendance and the favourite Barbaric sitting on the winner’s outer.

Innes improved Waterford coming to the home turn and the four-year-old soon hit the front and, though she ran out over the final stages, she was never in danger of defeat and went to the line two and a quarter lengths ahead of  Whosyourmaster, who ran on strongly, while Vincent Street just shaded Barbaric for third placing.

“She’s come back a lot stronger and her trial was very good,” said Pike. “Her work has been enormous. She was a touch weak as a three-year-old and should be in for a very good season.”

Though the Rich Hill Mile is the long-range target for Waterford, the daughter of Darci Brahma could have a further Group Two mission beforehand.

“There’s the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Pukekohe, but it’s weight-for-age and she mightn’t be suited by it with her rating,” said Pike, referring to the $100,000 fillies and mares race on November 23.

Though Waterford has now won just twice from 11 starts, she has boosted her value through a close second behind Rollout The Carpet in last year’s Gr. 1 NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas and a fourth in the Gr. 3 Windsor Park Stud Breeders Stakes at Te Rapa.

Her best placing in a two-race Queensland winter campaign was a fifth over 1600 metres at Eagle Farm. “Nothing went right for her over there,” said Pike. “She never settled and she struck wet tracks.”