Chenille turned her summer around in style at Ellerslie today, heading a Tony Pike-trained quinella in the $100,000 Windsor Park Stud Karaka Stayers’ Cup.
An impressive winner of last year’s Hawke’s Bay Cup, the Pentire mare began this season as one of the leading contenders for the Gr. 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup. But her stocks dipped through the summer months amid a string of setbacks and disappointing performances.
Freshened after jarring up during the Waikato Cup in December, Chenille resumed with a second placing over 2100 metres at Ellerslie two weeks ago. She was expected to improve for that outing and she did, sending her prize-money earnings crashing through the $200,000 barrier and returning to outright Auckland Cup favouritism at $6.
“She’s a quality mare,” a visibly relieved Pike said after the 2200-metre feature. “We’ve had a lot of problems with her and this is probably the first time we’ve had her spot-on all season.”
Chenille has now had 24 starts for seven wins and eight placings. Along with his parents Wayne and Vicki, Pike also bred and part-owns the mare. She is a half-sister to their Group One-performed mare Chintz.
Making today’s result even sweeter for Pike is that Chenille narrowly beat her own stablemate, the exciting prospect Sacred Shot.
Chenille came from midfield and Sacred Shot from third-last, overpowering the game longshot Team Pete and having the finish all to themselves. The lightly raced Sacred Shot gave it everything he had, but Chenille held on by a neck.
“That was a tough win,” rider Leith Innes said. “Sacred Shot came up outside her but she dug deep and held on.”
While Pike was delighted to get Chenille’s Auckland Cup campaign back on track, he was also proud of Sacred Shot’s performance in his toughest test to date. This was only his fifth start and his first in open company, and he now boasts a record of two wins and three second placings.
“It was a super run from Sacred Shot as well, he’s an exciting horse,” the Cambridge trainer said. “This is a great result.”
Eight-year-old Team Pete, the winner of just two of his 48 starts, defied his 80-to-one odds with a gutsy third.