The horse that did more for New Plymouth trainer Robbie Patterson’s profile than any other may have raced for the last time.
Continued foot problems have meant Coventina Bay hasn’t managed this season to recapture the form that brought her victories in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) and the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) last year.
Following her sixth-place finish in this year’s Herbie Dyke, Patterson said it’s possible Coventina Bay’s racing career has come to an end rather than target the Gr.1 Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Pukekohe on April 8.
“She’s not officially retired yet, but after Te Rapa and the foot problems we’ve had with her, there’s a good chance she will be retired,” Patterson said.
“We won’t get to the Bonecrusher, and the only other option is the Breeders’ Stakes, and I don’t know if that’s the best option for her.
“She will be sold as a broodmare and I just want to see her retire as a healthy, happy horse.”
Last season Coventina Bay started six times in New Zealand for three wins and three second-place finishes, but this season she’s had just one placing from five starts as her feet have been more bothersome than ever, Patterson said.
“We’ve been battling with her feet all her life really. Just one white foot that gets soft quite easy, and she’s seven now, so it’s all just catching up with her really.”
Meanwhile, a win for Nom De Plume at Otaki last Saturday took Patterson to 31 wins for the season, placing him third on the trainers’ premiership behind Mark Walker and Stephen Marsh. It’s 11 more wins than his previous best tallies for an entire season – recorded last season and in 2013-14 – and he has no doubt Coventina Bay’s emergence is the biggest reason.
“I was battling around with about 15 horses when she rocked in,” Patterson said.
“Last year my numbers doubled, this year they tripled. People get to see you winning the big races and they know that you can get the job done, and they start to put their trust in you.
“She’s been the major influence. We’ve always been able to train horses, but when you get the profile from a top horse it changes it all.”
Patterson’s stable has been winning races at a spectacular strike rate of one for every 4.03 starts. Among other trainers with 10 or more wins, only Lance Noble (4.47) and the Johno Benner/Hollie Wynyard team (4.65) have strike rates under five.
“I’m not really one that targets strike rate, because sometimes you’ve got to run horses to get them ready,” he said. “But things are going really well this season, and if I take three or four to the races these days I’m disappointed if I don’t get a winner,” he said.
“Also, with the numbers we have at the moment, we don’t have to muck around with the slow ones and concentrate on getting them re-homed.”
Patterson regards Nom De Plume as one of his most promising stayers and thought enough of her to contest the Gr.1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) last season, but he won’t be hurrying her this season despite her Otaki victory.
“She’s still a Rating 72 horse, so we can still pick off a nice Saturday Rating 75 race with her before having to go up into the bigger time.
“But if all goes well she could target the Manawatu Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.3, 2000m) in the middle of April, and hopefully another trip to Queensland in winter.”
Another potential Queensland returnee for Patterson is The Fearless One, who finished third in the Gr.2 Premier’s Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm before finishing ninth in the Gr.2 Brisbane Cup (3200m).
“When we came back from Aussie and started working him he started making a noise, so he needed wind surgery,” Patterson said. “The operation was very successful and touch wood, if he comes up in the same form, he’ll be competitive over there again.”
One of his other top mares, Secret Amour, is also coming to the end of her career, but she will do some racing in some famous silks before she does.
“She went on gavelhouse.com and was bought by Tony Santic of Makybe Diva fame, so she will race in the Makybe Diva colours,” Patterson said.
“She’s back in work now and they want us to try and win a black-type race of some sort before spring, when she’s likely to be served.”