Group Two winner Dragon Queen put her hand up for Australian assignments after winning the Lisa Chittick Plate (1400m) at Matamata on Saturday.
Prepared by Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard, the five-year-old mare has been a model of consistency through her 27-start career.
Saturday’s victory was just her third, adding to a maiden win at Pukekohe in 2020 and her Gr.2 Westbury Classic (1400m) triumph last season. But she also boasts a further 14 placings, including three at Group Two level in addition to a Group Three placing.
In a small field of four, Dragon Queen conceded three kilos to each of her rivals under the set weights and penalties conditions but ultimately proved too good under the urgings of Opie Bosson, narrowly prevailing from a game Clever Ruds.
“I thought when I ranged up that she’d just going flying past, but she waited for the runner-up and I had to get to work,” Bosson said.
While co-trainer Pam Gerard had some trepidation about Dragon Queen handling Heavy9 footing, she also realised her top weight (58kg) was earned and that warranted respect.
“We left her in despite knowing the track was too wet for her, but with all the horses that scratched from the race we decided to run, and she was probably going to otherwise gallop between races anyway,” she said.
“There were not a lot of options for her next week. Opie (Bosson) kept her balanced which is the main thing in that sort of going and she was good enough to win.”
A granddaughter of New Zealand Filly of the Year, Snap, Dragon Queen was bred by the Dowager Duchess of Bedford and the Estate of the late Duke of Bedford.
She is raced by Sir Owen Glenn (Go Bloodstock), Alan Fu (Pegasus Bloodstock), and Jayven and Kathy See and was purchased as a yearling by Paul Moroney for $50,000 from the Brighthill Stud draft at Karaka.
“She’s been in the top four in 20 of her 27 starts, which shows that she always tries hard and we never really worry that she’s going to underperform,” Fu said.
“We always know that she’s going to try her heart out when she’s racing. Pam was trying to lower my expectations a bit because of the heavy ground, but it did improve a bit during the day which probably helped her.
“Pam has been very patient with her and we run her about eight times a year. It is a very good training effort from the team.”
Fu said there are options for Dragon Queen on both sides of the Tasman but the preference is to go to Sydney.
“We would like to go to Sydney and we will see if her rating would get her into the Coolmore Classic (Gr. 1, 1500m) at Rosehill in two weeks’ time,” Fu said.
“Mike has made some enquiries about a light-weight jockey as it is a handicap.
“There is also the Emancipation Stakes (Gr. 2, 1500m) at Rosehill on March 25, and she’s nominated for Queen of the Turf (Gr. 1, 1600m) at Randwick on April 8.
“She’s a five-year-old now and been good to us and we want to give her every opportunity to have a try out in Australia.
“It is only her third win, but she’s competitive at a high level and probably a bit underrated. She’s never far away.
“If she doesn’t make the field for the Coolmore Classic, then there is the Royal Descent Stakes (1600m) on the same day at Pukekohe. There are some nice options for her.”
The win of the well-credentialled Dragon Queen was another boost for the Lisa Chittick Plate, which is heading in the right direction for an upgrade to a black-type race.
“The Lisa Chittick Plate has been run four times now, won last year by Imperatriz who has now won four Group One races, while also won by subsequent dual Group One winner Conventina Bay, and dual Group Two winner Supera, so we’re heading in the right direction for an upgrade and there is great form around the race,” Mark Chittick, husband of the late Lisa Chittick, said.
“Dennis Ryan (former Matamata Club chairman) spoke to me about fitting this race into the programme on Matamata Breeders’ Stakes Day and we felt it incredibly appropriate to put Lisa’s name to it.
“When we can get it upgraded to a stakes race we plan to have a slight name change and call it the Lisa Chittick Champagne Stakes, which we think would be fitting.”
In addition to the lion’s share of the $40,000 prizemoney, Dragon Queen also collected a $10,000 NZB Insurance Pearl Series Bonus.