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Pennyweka adds a second Oaks

RACING

The decision to make the late nomination fee paid off for connections of Pennyweka as the Opaki filly stamped herself as a superior stayer when she scored a comfortable 1¾ length victory in the Group One Australian Oaks at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Veteran trainer Jim Wallace had considered sending the filly for a spell after her New Zealand Oaks triumph last month, but Pennyweka thrived in the days following, forcing a re-think and a late nomination for the A$1 million Australian Oaks.

“She told me, I was convinced that after the New Zealand Oaks, she’d be ready for a spell,” Wallace said.

“She came out on the Monday, trotted up, and the girl who rides her all the time said to me, ‘she feels better today than she did on Friday’.

“She carried on that week and did nothing wrong, so we thought, ‘oh well, we’ll roll the dice’, and here we are. It’s her first time away from home, and she travelled like an old toff.”

Pennyweka didn’t have it all her own way in Saturday’s 2400m classic race, sitting three wide throughout before powering away from her rivals in the home straight under the urgings of jockey Damian Lane.

Wallace was unperturbed by the wide trip throughout, with the filly jumping from barrier 11 in the 15-horse field.

“We talked about it before with Damian, and I said as long as you’ve got a back to follow, she’ll be right, I think she’ll stay the trip,” he said.

“She will go to the paddock now for six weeks, and then we’ll think about what we do in the spring.”

Randwick was treated to a sea of green as a huge contingent of the Galloping Wekas Jazweka Syndicate cheered home their pride and joy, who carried the green ‘weka’ silks.

“My sister-in-law and my brother run a little syndication company,” Wallace said.

“There are 70 people in Pennyweka, and 40 of them are here today having the time of their lives.

“A lot of them have only got one per cent or two per cent, but they can walk into the pub on a Saturday night and say ‘my horse won the Oaks’ which is great.”

Winning jockey Lane was delighted to link once again with another star Kiwi galloper.

“Well done to Mr Wallace, she was exceptional,” Lane said.

“Obviously, she was well prepared, and she’s been going great over the ditch. I was the only horse travelling on the corner, and we put them to the sword in the straight.

“She’s so tough. When I was doing her form, she started racing in September, had a short six-week let-up through December, and she’s raced all the way since January.

“For Jim to have her up that long, it was a great effort. To be able to sustain her condition all the way through, this far into her prep.”

Lane admitted Pennyweka was not the most physically imposing type in the mounting yard, but the high-class hoop knew not to judge a book by its cover.

“I’ve ridden enough New Zealand horses and had enough success on them to know that what you see is not always what you get.

“What she is, is just tough, big heart. She has a heart bigger than herself.”

Wallace bred Pennyweka in partnership with his brother Les and the filly comes from a family cultivated by their father, Jim Senior, an esteemed veterinarian who established Ardsley Stud on the outskirts of Masterton in 1973 with his sons.

Among the foundation mares of the stud was an Agricola mare named Agree, with Pennyweka a great great granddaughter.

Pennyweka is out of Threepence, a Pentire half-sister to group one Auckland Cup [3200m] winner Titch, bred and raced by Jim Wallace Snr.

The Oaks victory provided Rich Hill Stud stallion Satono Aladdin with his first group one winner in Australia after Tokyo Tycoon and Pennyweka had triumphed at the elite level in New Zealand for the exciting young stallion, whose eldest are three. NZ Racing Desk

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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