IN Racing
Cunneen celebrates first stakes success
The trajectory of Meg Cunneen’s burgeoning training career took another upward spiral at Timaru on Tuesday.
NZ Racing Desk | December 29, 2021
Photo: Race Images South

The trajectory of Meg Cunneen’s burgeoning training career took another upward spiral at Timaru on Tuesday when William Wallace took out the Listed Craigmore Sustainable Holdings Timaru Cup (1600m).

It was Cunneen’s first stakes victory and she was duly jubilant with the result so early on in her career.

“That was my first stakes win and my third win as a trainer, it was very exciting,” Cunneen said.

“I have been lucky, I have got a good group of owners who have supported me with some really nice horses.

“I had Seriously run second in the Coupland’s Mile (Gr.2, 1600m) during Cup Week which was exciting, but it is very cool to go one better.”

William Wallace was having just his second start for Cunneen and she took plenty of confidence into Tuesday when she saw rain in the forecast.

“He ran fourth in the Cromwell Cup (2030m) at the end of November. He ran the fastest last 600m of the day over 2000m, so he has got a very good turn of foot,” Cunneen said.

“I was quietly confident leading into the race when the rain was forecast.”

The Darci Brahma gelding settled at the rear of the field from his outside barrier in the 14-horse field where jockey Brett Murray bided his time until injecting his charge into the race at the 600m mark, looping the field to sit third rounding the home bend.

William Wallace opened up down the home straight to win by 3-1/2 lengths over Beneficial, with a further 1-1/4 lengths back to Goodanya in third.

“It was a wonderful ride form Brett Murray, he works pretty hard with the horse. It was good to see him get rewarded for this hard work,” Cunneen said.

“Brett said he was travelling really well and he thought that if he didn’t go he might get stuck behind a few that weren’t handling the wet conditions. He did the right thing and he knew what he had underneath him, it was a very good ride.”

Cunneen is in her second season of training and she is loving every moment of running her boutique operation.

“I have got four in work – William Wallace, Seriously, Mamma Sans and Bornholm. They are all lovely horses,” she said.

“Seriously is only on the way up. I know he is six years old but he is pretty lightly raced. He came back into work a week ago and he will probably be looking towards some targets around Riccarton in the autumn.”

Cunneen is also excited about the prospects of three-year-old gelding Bornholm who is set to line-up in the Valli Vineyards (1200m) at Kurow on Thursday.

“He is in tomorrow at Kurow, he has drawn a good gate (2) so he should be a relatively good chance,” she said.

“From there we will probably press onto the Gore Guineas (Listed, 1335m). He is nominated for the Levin Classic (Gr.1, 1600m), but that is a wait and see, if he puts his hand up and looks like he will be competitive we will go.”

While she has an exciting summer ahead of her, Cunneen was still left pinching herself after Tuesday’s stakes win.

“It has been incredible,” she said.

“I am lucky to have people like my Dad giving me a handful of horses and I have got a couple of Steve Ridley’s, and Adrian and Robyn Bull (owners of William Wallace) have been very good to me.”

Meg Cunneen Craigmore Sustainable Holdings Timaru Cup Coupland’s Mile Darci Brahma Cromwell Cup Brett Murr William Wallace Bornholm Goodanya Valli Vineyards Gore Guineas Wellington Seamarket Levin Classic Steve Ridley Adrian and Robyn Bull