A tilt at Group One level could be in the offing for Lady Telena following her upset victory in the Amicus Insurance Brokers Premier (2000m) at Riccarton on Wednesday.
The daughter of Vespa was rated an $18.70 winning chance for the Open Handicap but defied those odds when chasing down Kelly Coe late in the piece to win by three-quarters of a length under a patient Akshay Balloo ride.
While many punters were taken by surprise with the victory, trainer Kenny Moore was not.
“I am absolutely delighted. It was a really tough win and she is a lovely mare,” he said.
“I was pretty confident, she was very unlucky in her last two runs. The only thing that would beat her today was bad luck and fortunately we didn’t get any.”
Moore said she lapped up the Good3 track conditions on a blustery Christchurch day.
“We know she likes Riccarton, but she really needs to be on top of the ground,” he said.
“She can handle wet, but she is two or three lengths below what she can achieve on top of the ground.”
Moore was delighted with the ride from stable jockey Akshay Balloo and believes more trainers should utilise his services.
“Akshay works for me – I brought him out from Mauritius four years ago. He has been with me right through and has been my right-hand man, he’s awesome,” Moore said.
“He rode her beautifully, rated her well and followed instructions to the letter. I couldn’t be happier with him.
“He doesn’t get too many chances and I can never work out why. He has got a fantastic strike-rate with us and he has ridden some beautiful races. The thing I like is that horses really relax for him. He has got a real knack with the horses.”
The Cromwell Cup (2000m) was set to be Lady Telena’s next key target, however, Moore is now considering a ferry trip across the Cook Strait to tackle the Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham next month.
The Upper Hutt track holds fond memories for Moore, with stable favourite Bluey’s Chance finishing runner-up to Waisake in the Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m) two years ago.
“We were going to look at the Cromwell Cup but I have perhaps got to consider the Captain Cook Stakes on that run. It will be one or the other, it certainly won’t be both,” he said.
“Trentham is my favourite course in the whole wide world, so it would be lovely to get back up there again.”