Veteran Opaki trainer Jim Wallace. PHOTO/FILE
Pennyweka winning at Hastings in October. PHOTO/NZ RACING PHOTOS
It’s been 19 long years since Jim Wallace has had a runner in New Zealand’s premier race for three-year-old fillies.
But the veteran trainer believes he has an excellent chance with the talented Pennyweka in tomorrow’s Group One New Zealand Oaks [2400m] at Trentham.
Wallace’s last starter in the fillies classic was in 2004 with Madame Shinko, who ran sixth, but Wallace is confident that with Pennyweka, he has the right sort of filly to salute the judge in the $450,000 race.
The daughter of Satono Aladdin, out of the unraced mare Threepence, has won only one of her eight race day starts, over 1300m at Hastings in October, but has shown she is on song for the fillies classic, with a second in the Group Three Desert Gold Stakes [1600m] at Trentham in January, and most recently with a fast finishing third in the Group Two Lowland Stakes over 2100m at Awapuni on March 1.
Wallace felt that Pennyweka was desperately unlucky in the Lowland when she was held up on the corner, saying that if she’d got any sort of run at all, she would’ve won the race.
“She’s showed in all her races she’s got a good finishing burst on her, but she hasn’t had all the luck in some of her runs this year, so I think the bits have fallen into place for Saturday,” Wallace said.
The in-form Ryan Elliot will ride Pennyweka. A win would cap a remarkable three weekends for the Waikato jockey, who last Saturday saluted the judge on Platinum Invador in the Group Two Auckland Cup [3200m], and the previous Saturday piloted Sharp ‘n’ Smart to victory in the Group One NZ Derby.
The barrier draw of four should allow Elliot to position her perfectly for the challenging 2400m journey.
“Ryan’s riding very, very well. He’s a good strong rider and suits the filly very well. He will have some options, but I would like to see her three or four back and one-off.
“I’m confident she will run very well; whether she’s good enough to beat them, who knows.”
Wallace is unconcerned at the prospect of a rain-affected track, saying that Pennyweka has performed well on all surfaces.
Safely through the Oaks, Wallace is unsure what is next in line for the talented filly.
“Probably at this stage, my first preference would be to spell her and concentrate on next year, but the syndicate – and my brother is the racing manager – will have their input, and we’ll see where we get to, but there are some nice races for her in Queensland or South Australia.”
Pennyweka is raced by the Galloping Wekas Jazweka Syndicate, which has about 70 members, many of them locals, who are sure to shout the grandstand down should she salute the judge.
Fellow Opaki trainer Roger Allen is also gunning for black-type success, lining up the honest mare Ruby Rocks in the Group Three Cuddle Stakes and promising stayer Subtle Point in the listed NZ St Leger.
— Turn to page 21 for fields and form.