Dionysus (NZ) Claims Queen Elizabeth II Cup

2 January 2023

A year on from his victory in the $100,000 Dunstan Feeds Stayers’ Championship Final (2400m), Dionysus (NZ) (Ocean Park) returned to the New Year’s Day race meeting and picked up an even bigger prize in Sunday’s $200,000 Group Three Windsor Park Stud Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2400m) at Te Rapa.

Dionysus (NZ) wins G3 Windsor Park Stud Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2400m)

Purchased by trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood for $45,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2019, Dionysus has now earned $257,330 from a 19-start career that has produced five wins and four placings. He has a half-sister by Ardrossan in the catalogue for Karaka 2023.

Dionysus went one better on Sunday than his last-start second placing in the Group Three Waikato Cup (2400m) at the same venue, capping a big afternoon for trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood and jockey Warren Kennedy. They had earlier teamed up to win the Group Two Jamieson Park Auckland Guineas (1600m) with fellow Karaka graduate Prowess (NZ) (Proisir).

Patiently ridden by Kennedy, Dionysus dropped a long way back in a strung-out field headed by tearaway leader El Nymph (NZ) (El Roca). The pair began to improve their position coming up to the home turn, and when Kennedy asked Dionysus for maximum effort down the straight, the five-year-old delivered in spades.

Dionysus roared out of the pack, moving up alongside Self Obsession (NZ) (Shocking) and gradually getting the better of that rival to take victory by a neck. There was a gap of three lengths back to the rest of the field, headed by Zee Falls (NZ) (Sacred Falls).

“I wanted him just ahead of midfield, but he fluffed the start when he threw his head up as the gates opened,” Kennedy said. “We were a bit further back than I wanted, but once the speed was that genuine going past the winning post the first time, I was just where I wanted.

“There was no way they were going to go that fast all the way, so I just bided my time with a lot of confidence and he came through really smartly. I know there is quality in the horse and I just had to make sure I got a clear run.

“He switches off really nicely in a race, is an easy horse to ride and gives you just what you want when you ask him.”

James was delighted to add to a remarkable record of success with prominent owners Ron and Fran Dixon.

“It’s a real thrill, because this horse has some special owners,” James said. “They were my first-ever owners and we have had some tremendous success together. We’ve won Derbies, Adelaide Cups, and had over 60 Group and Listed races where we have been in the first three. They are just the most wonderful people to train for, and to do this for them is just wonderful.

“We were pretty happy with the horse’s whole preparation, and we were expecting a big run today. It was a truly run race, and normally the best horse wins when they are run like that.

“I said to Ron before the race that he will be an even better horse next year. Ron was the president of the Wellington Racing Club for a long time, so we would love to win the Wellington Cup (Group Three, 3200m) with him. The way the horse relaxed today, I don’t think the extra distance will be a problem.”

Epona Park will offer the Ardrossan half-sister to Dionysus, who will go through the ring as Lot 848 during Book 2 of Karaka 2023.

Vendor Cambridge Stud
Purchaser Mr RA James / Mr R Wellwood (Waikato)
Breeding Ocean Park – La Quinta
Sale Lot 163, Karaka 2019 Book 1, $45,000
Bred by Sir Patrick & Lady Hogan