Churchillian (NZ) Too Tough in Trentham Feature

14 January 2024

Churchillian (NZ) takes out the G3 at Trentham.

A tenacious victory in Saturday’s $120,000 Group Three Dixon & Dunlop Anniversary Handicap (1600m) at Trentham has added extra value to the pedigree page of well-related mare Churchillian (NZ) (Churchill).

The chestnut was a $100,000 purchase by Paul Willetts from the draft of breeders Pencarrow Stud in Book 1 of Karaka 2021. Her 13-start career has produced six wins, a placing and $196,290 in stakes.

Churchillian is by the English and Irish 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Churchill out of the Fastnet Rock mare Fond Du Coeur. She is closely related to the Hong Kong Cup-winning mare Pride (Peintre Celebre) and her Group One-performed son One Foot In Heaven (Fastnet Rock).

Churchillian had made a good impression with two strong Rating 75 victories and a placing from her four starts leading into the Trentham Group Three, and she rose to the black-type occasion in style on Saturday for rider Lily Sutherland.

After racing on the heels of the front-running Sergio (NZ) (Swiss Ace), Churchillian went for gold at the top of the long Trentham straight and was vulnerable as the challengers began to close in. But Churchillian dug deep and refused to let them pass, maintaining a slender winning margin of a head over Apostrophe (NZ) (Tavistock).

“She deserved that – she’s been consistent all season,” trainer Tony Pike said. “Things didn’t go completely her way, she was taken off the track when things got a bit tight at the top of the straight, but she is a good honest mare.

“She was always travelling well and despite getting some buffeting she is a pretty hard horse to get past when she gets in front.

“We will just wait and see how she comes through this, but she has been up quite a while with some tough racing. She is a promising mare going forward and I think she will only get better as she gets a bit of age on her.”

The Anniversary Handicap was Sutherland’s first raceday ride on Churchillian.

“She is just so tough,” she said. “There was a lot of speed in the race, but she crossed over easily. Although the horse inside her (Sergio) ran her out a bit, she was too tough.

“She tried really really hard and I was lucky to be on her. I’m very lucky to be on horses for the stable and they are going very well.”

Runner-up Apostrophe is also a Karaka graduate. She was offered by Cambridge Stud in Book 1 of Karaka 2019, where trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood secured her for $60,000. She has lined up in 17 races, recording five wins and four placings and earning $136,160 in stakes so far.

Vendor Pencarrow Stud
Purchaser Mr PA Willetts (Auckland)
Breeding Churchill – Fond Du Coeur
Sale Lot 408, Karaka 2021 Book 1, $100,000
Bred by Pencarrow Thoroughbreds Ltd