$12,000 Karaka Purchase Carolina Reaper (NZ) Triumphs in Easter

26 April 2022

Carolina Reaper (NZ) flashes late to score the Gr.3 Easter Handicap (1600m).

Classy Karaka graduate Carolina Reaper (NZ) (Vespa) took her career to new heights with a first black-type success in Saturday’s $120,000 Group Three Manco Easter Handicap (1600m) at Pukekohe.

Bought by co-trainer and part-owner Graham Richardson for only $12,000 from Book 2 of Karaka 2019, the four-year-old mare has now had 14 starts for four wins, five placings and $160,600 in stakes – more than 13 times her purchase price.

This has been a breakthrough season for Carolina Reaper, who began her preparation in Rating 65 grade but has risen through the ranks with three wins, four placings and a fourth from her eight starts as a four-year-old. She hinted at her big-race potential with a second behind quality galloper Bankers Choice (NZ) (Mongolian Khan) in the $90,000 Stella Artois 1500 Championship Final (1500m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

Saturday was the day she took that next step. With Ashvin Goindasamy in the saddle, Carolina Reaper rounded the home turn in third-last position and with around a dozen lengths to make up, and she did it in spectacular style.

Despite a firm bump from a rival runner inside the last 300 metres, Carolina Reaper produced and sustained a withering finish down the outside of the track, charging past more than a dozen rivals within a handful of strides.

She sailed past multiple Group One placegetter Brando (NZ) (Savabeel) in the shadows of the finish line, completing a breathtaking come-from-nowhere victory by three-quarters of a length.

“She did us proud, and I think she is a very good horse in the making,” Richardson told NZ Racing Desk. “I had always thought she was a stakes winner in waiting, but to do it at her 14th start is a lot quicker than I thought it would be.

“She did deserve her place in the field on talent, but her rating had me worried, and I guess now we will have to see how the handicapper treats her and what rating penalty she gets for the victory.

“What I do know is that she is now going straight out for a good spell and she will be a bigger and better horse in the spring.

“There is a great bunch of people in the ownership, including Craig Leishman, who is also a part-owner of Sharp ‘N’ Smart (NZ) (Redwood) who won the Champagne Stakes (Listed, 1600m) earlier in the day.

“Craig lives in Auckland, but couldn’t make it today, as I think there was some sort of incident on the motorway which meant he couldn’t get here and had to turn around and watch them at home.

“I don’t think it will be her last win, so there will be many more opportunities to see her in person for all the owners.

“Depending on how she spells I’ve got a race like the Tarzino Trophy (Group One, 1400m) at Hastings in the spring as a target for her, because I think she is a Group One horse of the future.

“She is such a lovely mare to do anything with, just laid-back, and a mare that just loves being around people, so she is a favourite at home and we are really looking forward to her next campaign.”

Carolina Reaper became the first Group winner for her sire Vespa (NZ), who himself was a $34,000 purchase from Karaka 2013 and won the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and Group One Diamond Stakes (1200m). He is the sire of 21 winners, four of them at black-type level.

Runner-up Brando, meanwhile, was bought for $500,000 by David Ellis at the 2019 Ready to Run Sale. He has had 15 starts for five wins, six placings and $203,275 in stakes to date.

Vendor Wellfield Lodge
Purchaser Richardson Racing Stables
Breeding Vespa – Bonney Pepper
Sale Lot 1029, Karaka 2019 Book 2, $12,000
Bred by Nearco Stud Ltd & Pee Gee & W J Bloodstock