PERFECT START AND PERFECT FINISH FOR MATAMATA MARE AT AWAPUNI
She's named Perfect Start but it's at the finish where she's excelled this month.
And the Matamata mare might now head to the $200,000 City Of Auckland Cup (2400m) at Ellerslie on January 1 after completing a notable Awapuni double yesterday.
Perfect Start backed up to win the $100,000 Manawatu Cup (2300m), after taking the $25,000 Cup Prelude a week earlier.
It was evidence that the five-year-old is in the best form of her career and trainer Wayne Hillis will take a serious look at the City Of Auckland Cup.
"I know it's coming up fairly quickly, in 12 days, but she has handled the two trips down here [to Awapuni] pretty well," Hillis said. "We will see how she comes through this race, but we will definitely look at it."
Yesterday's Group III win was the best of Perfect Start's career but Hillis has always rated the mare and has been happy to race her in good company.
She was stakes-placed as a three-year-old and tackled the Group I Thorndon Mile at Trentham last summer. She also raced in four group races at this year's Brisbane winter carnival.
Hillis, who has long shown he can peak his charges for big races, is working only 15 horses but could be represented in two feature races at the Ellerslie carnival.
Three-year-old filly Letmego has won over sprint distances at Ellerslie at her last two starts and will step up in distance and class in the Group II Eight Carat Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
"We want to give her [Letmego] a crack at black type now, before the fillies races get longer," Hillis said. "She has won three races now."
Sam Spratt is unbeaten on Perfect Start after riding the mare in both her Awapuni wins.
Perfect Start had a good run in the third line yesterday but Spratt was not optimistic about her chances at the top of the straight.
"I was working on her on the turn and she's wasn't responding a huge amount," Spratt said.
"But half-way up the straight she changed legs and found another gear. It was a good, tough effort and she raced a bit the same on the first day."
Perfect Start, a Perfectly Ready mare, is raced by her breeders, Garry and Shirley Bluett and Jim Marks.
Marks and the Bluetts also raced Perfect Start's dam, Artemesia, who has been a notable success as a broodmare.
Her first four foals have been winners and also include Winter Cup winner Art Beat and Smartly, who has won five.
Dubai Belle, who had been the runner-up to Perfect Start in the Prelude, filled the same placing yesterday, after making the pace and kicking hard in the straight.
Little separated the minor placegetters and seventh-placed Likeapins was only 2.4 lengths from the winner.