IN Racing
Group One farewell program for quality mare
Well-performed mare Coventina Bay will see out her career in the best of company before she is likely to be sold as a broodmare prospect.
NZ Racing Desk | January 27, 2023
Photo: Trish Dunell

Well-performed mare Coventina Bay will see out her career in the best of company before she is likely to be sold as a broodmare prospect.

The daughter of Shamexpress is a dual top-flight winner and will strip in top order when she bids to add to her record in the Gr.1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday.

Coventina Bay finished runner-up two starts back in the Gr.2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) before she was unplaced after beginning awkwardly in the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) and will now be better served with a step up in distance.

“Her last run has tidied her nicely and she’s looking good. It was ideal really and better than running her in the Anniversary (Gr.3, 1600m) with a lot more weight,” trainer Robbie Patterson said.

“She had a nice hit-out and it’s panned out perfectly. She’s ready and a little bit of rain won’t worry her as much as some of the others.”

With the mare’s regular rider Craig Grylls aboard race rival La Crique, Irish jockey Joe Doyle will partner the mare.

After Trentham, Coventina Bay will be set to defend her elite titles as the clock runs down on the seven-year-old’s racing days.

“She’ll go to the Herbie Dyke Stakes (Gr.1, 2000m) and then the Bonecrusher Stakes (Gr.1, 2000m),” Patterson said.

She finished second in last year’s Gr.1 New Zealand Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) and will be given the chance to go one better in the Te Aroha feature while the Gr.1 El Cheapo Cars WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki is also in the mix.

Coventina Bay campaigned at last year’s Queensland winter carnival without success and a return has been ruled out.

“It doesn’t suit her style of racing. You’re racing against the best in Brisbane and she just gets too far out of her ground against them,” Patterson said.

“The only way she would be going over there would be to the Gold Coast Broodmare Sale. She’s got maybe four races left in her.”

Patterson will also be represented in the Thorndon by the genuine Conor O’Ceirin, who was a close last-start third in the Anniversary.

“Any rain will help Conor O’Ceirin no end and if a couple of the good ones have an off day, he can run in the money for sure. He’s a big, bold horse who never stops trying,” he said.

The Dial A Prayer six-year-old will also sport a new look on Saturday on the advice of rider Warren Kennedy.

“He’s an on-pace, grinding type of horse and Warren was pretty impressed with him the other day and said if he had winkers or blinkers on he could have nearly won,” he said.

“In his last two starts he has got to the front and pulled himself up. It will be interesting on Saturday with the winkers on.”

Patterson’s other runner at the meeting is the very much in-form The Underbelly, a son of The Bold One who will step out in the John Turkington Forestry Douro Cup (16y00m).

The four-year-old has claimed victories in three of his last four starts and will again be ridden by Grylls.

“All of his work has been tip top and he will obviously be going up a grade, but winning form is good form,” Patterson said.

“He does it in a good way and gets himself up on the pace and holds a strong gallop. I said to Craig should we have a go at this race and he said why not, he’s a really progressive horse.”

Conor O’Ceirin Coventina Bay Craig Grylls Dial A Prayer Gr.1 Bonecrusher Stakes Gr.1 El Cheapo Cars WFA Classic Gr.1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes Gr.1 New Zealand Breeders’ Stakes Gr.1 Telegraph Gr.2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes Joe Doyle John Turkington Forestry Douro Cup La Crique Robbie Patterson Shamexpress The Bold One The Underbelly Warren Kennedy