New Zealand-breds dominated the inaugural running of the revamped A$2 million Gr.2 The Ingham (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday, with an all-Kiwi trifecta headed by a pair of John O’Shea-trained stablemates.
Kirwan’s Lane was presented at just the right time by jockey Brenton Avdulla, bursting to the front with less than 200m remaining. His biggest challenge came from his own stablemate, with a resurgent former Group One winner Lion’s Roar flashing home out wide, but Kirwan’s Lane kept kicking and held on to win in a tight finish.
Adding further to the New Zealand theme, the fast-finishing third placegetter was quality mare Atishu, who is trained by Chris Waller for syndicators Go Racing.
O’Shea took special satisfaction from his quinella in The Ingham, which was previously run as the Villiers Stakes with a purse of A$750,000.
“It’s a fantastic initiative to rename this race in honour of a great family in Australian racing,” O’Shea said. “So it’s a real honour to win a race of this calibre, recognising a family that I’ve always idolised, and I’m thrilled to do it for such a great group of owners in this horse.”
Kirwan’s Lane has now had 38 starts for 11 wins, eight placings and more than A$1.8 million in stakes. He is raced by Ron Finnemore’s Finnemore Thoroughbreds.
“It’s particularly good to win this for Ron and his owners – Ron is having a great time over there,” O’Shea said. “The horse just got a perfect ride from Brenton, and we were so happy with the horse coming into this race.
“I was just worried that the 57 kilograms might be too much – that was the only issue I had with him. But the ground was fine, and we knew that Lion’s Roar was ready to run a big race too. So we’re really happy to see them both run so well for their connections.
“Kirwan’s Lane was actually one of the first horses I bought as a yearling in New Zealand when I first came back training, and he’s the most winningest horse I’ve ever trained – I’ve never had a horse win 11 races before.
“It’s very exciting. My wife has a share in him as well, and she’s in New York at the moment. She’ll be pretty excited too.”
Kirwan’s Lane was bred by Christopher Grace and is out of the Savabeel mare Galway, who is also the dam of stakes-winning New Zealand sprinter Johny Johny.
O’Shea paid $170,000 to purchase Kirwan’s Lane from the draft of Little Avondale Stud in Book 1 of Karaka 2018. The six-year-old gelding has returned more than 10 times that amount in prize-money.