mare Chenille (NZ) (Pentire),
who was purchased at the 2013 Premier Sale for $55,000, won a race worth almost
10 times that amount when she scored a dominant victory in Thursday's $500,000
Group 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie.
The Auckland Cup had been the five-year-old mare's target all season, and she
boasted impressive form credentials with three wins this season including the
$100,000 Windsor Park Stud Karaka Stayers' Cup (2200m) and the $50,000 Nathans
She was also perfectly placed near the bottom of
the handicap with 53.5 kilograms, half a kilogram above the minimum. She was
the clear favourite for the staying showpiece, which was originally set to be
run last Saturday.
But renowned dry-tracker Chenille's hopes seemed to wash away with the
monstrous storm that hit the Auckland region late last week, sending the track
rating plummeting from a Good2 to a Heavy11.
However, conditions became so bad that the Auckland Racing Club was forced to
pull the pin on Saturday's racing altogether and reschedule it as a twilight
meeting on Thursday.
On a much-improved Dead5 surface, the cream rose to the top and Chenille
produced a staying masterclass.
Ridden by Leith Innes, Chenille settled beautifully in midfield before swooping
around the outside approaching the home turn.
She always had the race in safe keeping from there, crossing the finish line
three-quarters of a length in front of fellow Karaka graduate El
(NZ) (El Hermano).
"She looked a good thing on the turn," said trainer Tony Pike, who also won the
Auckland Cup in 2015 with another Karaka graduate, Rock
(NZ) (Lucky Unicorn).
"She probably got to the front too soon, but she's a very good staying mare.
"I'm just glad we got a second chance and the track came back. It's a huge buzz
for my parents.
"Leith rode her perfectly and he got her to drop her head down the back and she
was bolting on the corner."
Chenille improved from midfield with 600 metres to run and she came widest into
the straight to hit the lead early in the run home.
Chenille was bred by Pike in partnership with his parents Wayne and Vicki, and
they now share in the ownership with their long-time friends Graeme and Jackie
The Cup winner is a half-sister to the Pikes' Group 2-winning and Group
1-placed mare Chintz
From 27 career starts, Chenille has now won nine and placed in another eight,
earning more than $548,000 in prize-money.
Under their Longlands Stud banner, the Pikes offered Chenille at the 2013
Premier Sale, where she sold to champion Sydney trainer Chris Waller for