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Pennyweka storms to Oaks victory

Pennyweka capped an emotional week for Wairarapa’s Wallace family with a brilliant win in the Group One New Zealand Oaks at Trentham on Saturday.

Members of the Galloping Wekas Jazweka Syndicate threatened to tear down the Trentham members’ stand when their pride and joy flew to a three-length win in the 2400m classic for three-year-old fillies under the urgings of in-form jockey Ryan Elliot.

Included in the ownership structure are brothers Jim and Les Wallace, who bred the filly, their wives Mary and Janine, and about 70 other syndicate members.

Jim Wallace, who trains Pennyweka, had been confident the stars had aligned for his charge after the Wallace family had assembled from all corners of the globe as part of a huge celebration of the life of Madeleine Wallace, the late wife of Jim and Mary’s son David, at Masterton’s Ardsley Stud on Friday. The gathering was only one day after Jim and Les’ mother Margaret passed away.

“Somebody asked me yesterday [Saturday] morning what did I expect, and I said I expect her to win and win well, and I was very confident,” Jim Wallace said.

“It’s been an absolutely marvellous week for all the family. It’s the first time in about six years that all my children and their children have been together, and when they were all down there, they nearly brought the place down, and it has been very, very special.

“My mother was an avid racegoer, and my father was an avid racing fan, but he didn’t go that often. My mother travelled the world following the horses, and if she had been there we would probably still be there.”

Jim Wallace is unsure of the future plans for Pennyweka but is not dismissing the possibility of travelling to Australia for rich three-year-old races in Queensland or South Australia.

“She will have a few days off, and we’ll have a ponder on it, and I will sit down with my brother [Les], and we’ll sort the layout going forward.

“I’m a little bit old school. I believe that if you have one target, you have a break and then set another one, but we will see. She’s come through it very well, so there would be nothing physically to stop her going, but I’m not sure if it’s the right thing for her going forward.

“I think there’s still maturing for her to do, and she might benefit from a little bit of time, but these are decisions you don’t make quickly, and you think about them and work it out, so we’ll have a discussion later on in the week and sort something out.”

Training Group One winners is nothing new for Jim Wallace, who prepared the brilliant Cent Home, the winner of 12 races and $750000 prizemoney, including the 1999 Kelt Capital Stakes at Hastings and Captain Cook Stakes. However, the veteran trainer believes it’s difficult to compare Cent Home to Pennyweka.

“She’s a different type of horse to him. He was very brilliant, he was a big strong masculine brute of a horse, and she is much more of a lady but has more than her share of ability, and she’s a very good horse, as he was, so going forward if we manage her properly she might reach the heights that he did.”

The win also capped a sensational period for Elliot, who has now taken out a Group One event in three consecutive weeks and six for the season. The Waikato rider was confident he had plenty of horse under him throughout the race.

“It was a little rough early doors, as we were in a place we didn’t want to be in,” Elliot said.

“At the half mile, I had to get out, and Jim had her ready and in perfect form.

“She travelled strongly throughout, and I just tried to weave my way through, and when I got clear air, she has really let down.

“It’s been a great season for me, and I just hope it continues.”

Pennyweka is out of Threepence, an unraced Pentire half-sister to Group One Auckland Cup [3200m] winner Titch, bred and raced by Les and Jim’s father, Jim Wallace Snr and trained by Mary Wallace’s cousin Kevin Myers.

Pennyweka has won two of her nine starts and over $330,000 in prizemoney.

Additional Reporting – 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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