The Jim Wallace-trained Pennyweka stamped herself as a superior stayer when she scored a comfortable 1¾ length victory in the Gr.1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The daughter of Satono Aladdin won the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) last month in emphatic fashion and despite sitting three-wide throughout, powered away from her rivals to win the Australian Oaks under Damian Lane.
New Zealand bred horses have been the dominant force at The Championships - winning all four Group One races on the opening day - and the (NZ) suffix was beside the first three horses past the post in the Australian Oaks as So Dazzling and Premise filled the minor placings.
Opaki trainer Wallace had considered sending the filly for a spell following her New Zealand Oaks triumph, but Pennyweka thrived in the days following, forcing a re-think and a late nomination for the Australian Oaks.
“She told me, I was convinced that after the New Zealand Oaks she’d be ready for a spell. She came out on the Monday, trotted up and the girl who rides her all the time said to me, ‘she feels better today than she did on Friday’,” Wallace said.
“She carried on that week and did nothing wrong so we thought, ‘oh well, we’ll roll the dice’ and here we are.
“It’s her first time away from home and she travelled like an old toff.”
Wallace wasn’t perturbed by the wide trip throughout, with the filly jumping from barrier 11 in the 15-horse field.
“We talked about it before with Damian (Lane) and I said as long as you’ve got a back to follow, she’ll be right, I think she’ll stay the trip,” Wallace said.
“She will go to the paddock now for six weeks and then we’ll think about what we do in the spring.”
Randwick was treated to a sea of green as a huge contingent of the Galloping Wekas Jazweka Syndicate cheered home their pride and joy, who carried the green ‘weka’ silks.
“My sister-in-law and my brother run a little syndication company,” Wallace said.
“There are 70 people in Pennyweka and 40 of them are here today having the time of their lives.
“A lot of them have only got one percent, two percent but they can walk into the pub on a Saturday night and say ‘my horse won the Oaks’ which is great.”
Winning Jockey Damien Lane was delighted to link once again with another star Kiwi galloper.
“Well done to Mr Wallace, she was exceptional,” he said. “Obviously she was well prepared, she’s been going great over the ditch. I was the only horse travelling on the corner and we put them to the sword in the straight.
“She’s so tough. When I was doing her form, she started racing in September, had a short six week let-up through December and she’s raced all the way since January. For Jim to have her up that long it was a great effort. To be able to sustain her condition all the way through, this far into her prep.”
Lane admitted Pennyweka was not the most physically imposing type in the mounting yard, but the high-class hoop knew not to judge a book by its cover.
“I’ve ridden enough New Zealand horses and had enough success on them to know that what you see is not always what you get. What she is is just tough, big heart. She has a heart bigger than herself.”
Wallace bred Pennyweka in partnership with his brother Les and the filly comes from a family cultivated by their father Jim Senior, an esteemed veterinarian who established Ardsley Stud on the outskirts of Masterton in 1973 with his sons.
Among the foundation mares of the stud was an Agricola mare named Agree, with Pennyweka a great great granddaughter.
The victory provided Rich Hill Stud stallion Satono Aladdin with his first Group One winner in Australia after Tokyo Tycoon and Pennyweka had triumphed at the elite level in New Zealand for the exciting young stallion, whose eldest are three.
A son of phenomenal Japanese stallion Deep Impact, Satono Aladdin was a top-flight racehorse who won eight races including the Gr.1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) in the head-turning time of 1:31.5.
Pennyweka is out of a Pentire half-sister to Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m) winner Titch, bred and raced by Jim Wallace snr.