Eternal Flame (NZ) Breaks Through in Matron

11 March 2024

Eternal Flame (NZ) 

After several luckless runs at stakes level, Eternal Flame (NZ) (Sacred Falls) finally got her moment in the sun with a first stakes win in Saturday’s A$200,000 Group Three Matron Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.

Bought by bloodstock agent Phill Cataldo for $260,000 from the 2021 Ready to Run Sale, the four-year-old has now had 11 starts for four wins, a placing and A$273,200 in prize-money.

Eternal Flame’s previous appearances at stakes level had produced a sixth in the Group Two Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m), sixth in the Group Two Kewney Stakes (1600m), fifth in the Listed Black Pearl Stakes (1200m), fifth in the Group Three Frances Tressady Stakes (1400m) and a last-start fourth in the Group Three Mannerism Stakes (1400m), often with more than her share of excuses.

But Saturday was Eternal Flame’s day. The Michael Kent-trained mare settled in the back half of the field in the early stages of the race, then slid forward into a handier position in fourth and one off the rail.

Running By (Impending) burst to the lead and kicked clear with 200 metres remaining, but Eternal Flame gradually wore her down and passed her in the final 50 metres to win by half a length.

“I rode her neutral out of the gates, but a spot presented itself a bit closer so I ended up rolling forward and taking it up,” jockey Damian Lane said. “I thought the tempo was good throughout, which was ideal for us.

“Running By left me off the bridle early in the run home, and I wasn’t sure if she was going to pick her up. But to her credit her last 100 metres were her best and she got the job done.

“She’s just taken leaps and bounds in this preparation. She’s really strengthened and is a different animal. Hopefully this isn’t the ceiling for her and she can reach a higher bar again.”

Part-owner Craig Williams was delighted by Saturday’s black-type breakthrough.

“We’ve had a great ride with this filly,” he said. “She’s been so unlucky in a number of races. She might have had a few people knocking her after her last couple, but she proved herself today.

“Mick picked her out of the Ready to Run Sale in New Zealand a couple of years ago, and he took his time with her, as he does with all his horses. I think she’ll be even better as a five-year-old next year. She’s great to be involved with.”

Kent was represented at Flemington on Saturday by Nikki Burke.

“I was happy with where she was placed in the run, although I’d probably expected her to be a pair or two further back,” she said. “Coming into the straight, I thought she was going to win easily, but then the leader really kicked and she was left flat-footed for a couple of strides. But then she was very strong late and she really deserved a Group win. She arguably should have won her last two.

“I think we might give her a freshen-up now and maybe look at something in Adelaide in May.”

Vendor Kilmore Farm Ltd
Purchaser Phill Cataldo Bloodstock (BAFNZ) (Victoria)
Breeding Sacred Falls – Suriyan
Sale Lot 321, 2021 Ready to Run Sale, $260,000
Bred by Hoofbeat Ltd