Trainer Mark Walker saddled three runners in the Listed Riccarton Park Function Centre Welcome Stakes (1000m) at Riccarton on Wednesday and scooped the pool with a trifecta.
Under visiting Sydney jockey Josh Parr, Sky On Fire jumped well from barrier 4 and was able to find the lead and the rail, and despite absorbing good pressure from stablemate Rubicon Crossing, was able to go and score in the first juvenile stakes race of the season.
The Exceed And Excel filly won by just under a length from Ruick filly Rubicon Crossing, with well-related Snitzel filly Rhetorical finishing third.
The trio of fillies were all purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis, with the first two home Magic Millions graduates, while the third place getter was purchased from the Haunui Farm draft at Karaka.
“We are proud of all three of them. They all ran great races and all of them deserve a bit of a holiday now. A stakes performance for their pedigrees is a big help as well,” a delighted Mark Walker said.
“Sky On Fire just had the benefit of going down the chute last start which was a big help. All three have got bright futures.”
Despite likely earning enough prizemoney to guarantee a start in the A$2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m), Sky On Fire won’t be seen on the Gold Coast.
“She will head back to Te Akau Stud for a nice little break and get ready for the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.2, 1200m),” Walker said.
“Rubicon Crossing is in the same boat. She is a Magic Millions filly and will also look at the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes and Rhetorical will go home and get ready for the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m).
“I think with her experience she can be a factor in the Karaka Million. She didn’t win today, but she didn’t let us down either. They are all nice fillies.”
Winning rider Josh Parr was pleased to record a second stakes victory in tangerine silks, answering a call from the leading stable after retained rider Opie Bosson was sidelined through suspension.
Parr produced a brilliant ground-saving to score on Campionessa in the Listed Metropolitan Trophy (2500m) for the Te Akau team on the opening day of the Riccarton Carnival, whereas the Welcome Stakes win was relatively straight-forward.
“I was comfortable in front. I was confident in her ability to run that kind of speed and still produce a turn of foot,” Parr said.
“I got a nice feel for her on Monday morning at trackwork so that gave me a nice lead into today. We went along at a strong tempo and it would have been nice to have had a half second breather.
“All credit to the team, they got this horse here in great order and I am the one lucky enough to win on her.”