Stephen Autridge is looking forward to taking two talented three-year-old fillies to Tauranga this weekend, including a debut winner who has a special connection to the past.
The Matamata trainer will saddle Loch Katrine and Tears Of Victory in the Ultimate Mazda 3YO (1300m) on Saturday. Tears Of Victory was bred by Kevin Hickman, who has had a major influence on the New Zealand racing and breeding landscape over the last decade with his Valachi Downs operation.
Autridge trained Valachi’s blue-blooded string of racehorses from 2018 until the operation’s closure last year, and he is delighted to still have Tears Of Victory in his care. She is a daughter of exciting stallion U S Navy Flag, who initially shuttled to Valachi Downs before relocating to The Oaks Stud.
The filly was sold for $18,000 in last year’s Valachi Downs Unreserved Young & Racing Stock Dispersal on Gavelhouse Plus. She now races in the blue and brown colours of new owner Tim Harrison.
“It does mean a lot that this filly has kept that Valachi connection in the stable, and especially being by U S Navy Flag as well,” Autridge said. “I’ve always been a big fan of that stallion.”
Tears Of Victory has had one start for one win, kicking away in the straight to score by a length and three-quarters in a maiden sprint at Matamata on August 27. The runner-up in that race was Valentine, who was a next-start winner at Matamata this week.
“She won well on debut and is a filly that I think has improved out of sight,” Autridge said. “This is a big step up for her, but she’s on trial for some of those better three-year-old races that are coming up later on in the season. We’ve got to find out if she’s going to measure up or not. I do think that she’ll run well.”
Tears Of Victory is nominated for the Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 18, for which the TAB currently rates her a $41 chance.
Slightly ahead of her in that 1000 Guineas market is her stablemate Loch Katrine, who sits at a $31 quote.
The winner of the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Pukekohe in April for her former trainer Daniel Miller, the Ardrossan filly has had two starts for Autridge so far this spring. She ran fourth behind the undefeated Quintessa in the Taupo Pak ‘N’ Save Fillies (1100m), then finished eighth behind the same rival in the Gr.3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings earlier this month.
“I’d say her two runs for me so far have both been okay,” Autridge said. “She’s looking to go a bit further, and she takes a bit of a step up in distance on Saturday to 1300m. She’s probably looking for a wetter track as well, and it’s looking like there’s a chance of some rain this weekend. We’re hoping that arrives.
“Her work has been spot on and I’m very happy with her.”
Tegan Newman will take the mount on Loch Katrine on Saturday, with Maria Sanson booked to ride Tears Of Victory.