Bill Thurlow wasn’t sure what to expect from maiden galloper Arbre Rouge when she made her raceday debut at Hawera on Sunday, but he certainly got more than he bargained for courtesy of an exceptional ride from apprentice Lily Sutherland.
Sutherland, who only received a clearance to resume riding during the week after taking a nasty spill from the ill-fated Stumpy at Wanganui last month, was in difficulty early in the race and ended up riding the daughter of Redwood without the use of her irons for the last 600m of the race.
Despite the inconvenience, Sutherland maintained her balance to bring the three-year-old filly through a gap along the inner in the home straight before forging clear for a decisive three quarters of a length victory in the 1600m contest.
“What a special ride that was from Lily,” Thurlow said.
“We had been keen to secure her to ride our horse as I think she is one of the most promising 4kg claimers around and she delivered an absolute beauty.
“I know she has had a very good mentor for her riding in Vicki Wilson, who employs her, but to get the win after losing your irons like that is quite exceptional.”
Thurlow wasn’t brimming with confidence before the contest with Arbre Rouge having been unplaced in two trials over shorter trips, but he had an inkling a step up in distance would suit the filly.
“She is a horse that hasn’t shown a lot at trials and jumpouts over the short distances, but I liked the fact in all those outings she was always thereabouts and wouldn’t toss it in at the finish,” he said.
“That said to me she would probably appreciate a longer trip and she was quite impressive in the way she took the gap and finished the job off in the straight today.
“I don’t have any major plans for her, rather we will get her home and see how she recovers, but at this stage there could be a few more wins in store for her after a performance like that.”
Arbre Rouge is a daughter of Don Eduardo mare Chagrin and comes from an extended family that includes Gr.1 VRC Derby (2500m) winner Second Coming and the multiple New Zealand stakes winner Intransigent.
Thurlow also confirmed that his progressive staying mare Darlington County was getting ready to return to the stable to get ready for her spring campaign.
“Darlington County came a long way for us last prep and has enjoyed her time in the paddock recently,” he said.
“She comes back to the stable on June 1 and I think she could be a Cups contender later on if she makes the progress I expect.
“She has won twice over a middle distance and that is her pet distance as I have my doubts whether 3200m is within her scope at this stage.
“We’ll keep her around the 2000-2400m journeys as there are plenty of nice races for her around that mark.”
Thurlow also advised that his former charge No Compromise, who has performed with credit over staying trips in Sydney under the care of Chris Waller, was enjoying a spell after finishing amongst the beaten runners at his last start in the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on heavily rain-affected ground.
Meanwhile three-year-old Wrote filly And We Danced, in whom Thurlow shares in the ownership, would most likely have the second start of her new campaign for Waller at Randwick next week.
“No Compromise is in the paddock after a very strong campaign that saw him win the Queen’s (Manion) Cup (Gr.3, 2400m) for us,” he said.
“He came a long way over the summer and hopefully he can on with it in his next prep.
“And We Danced went a slashing race for second first-up at Scone and we are really looking forward to seeing her race over the winter as she enjoys the sting out of the track and they certainly have had that in Sydney over the last few months.”