Jennifer Eccles (NZ) Stars Again in Lowland Stakes

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Jennifer Eccles (NZ) currently sits at the top of the NZB FOTY Series leaderboard.
Jennifer Eccles (NZ) currently sits at the top of the NZB FOTY Series leaderboard.

The 2019-20 New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series is beginning to follow an increasingly familiar script, with outstanding filly Jennifer Eccles (Rip Van Winkle) romping to another dominant victory in Wednesday’s $100,000 Group Two Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings.

The Lowland Stakes was the Shaune Ritchie-trained runner’s third win in the 10-leg Series, and all three of those wins have come in the last five legs, since Boxing Day.

Jennifer Eccles now has an exceptional total of 32.5 points, which makes her an almost certain winner of the 2019-20 New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series.

Loire (NZ) (Redoute’s Choice) picked up another minor placing in Wednesday’s Lowland Stakes and moved to 22.5 points, but her hopes of Filly of the Year glory now hinge on the 12 points available to the winner of next month’s Group One Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham.

She will also need Jennifer Eccles to finish outside the top three in that famous classic, and on the strength of Wednesday’s performance, there is little chance of that.

Ridden by Jason Waddell, the filly sat in sixth place one off the rail for most of the race but was keen to go a lot faster. She began to pull her way forward down the side of the track, then swooped around to take the lead at the top of the straight.

She very quickly put the result beyond any doubt, powering clear to win by four lengths. Loire was second, with another length and a half back to the third-placed Showbeel (NZ) (Savabeel).

“She’s aggressive and she’s such a racehorse,” Waddell said. “She is so competitive. The speed obviously wasn’t fast.

“I couldn’t hold her any longer coming to the 600 metres, I was getting up on their heels. She is a horse that has got a short turn of foot – well, we thought she did. I don’t know if I have ridden too many fillies that can quicken up the way she does.

“She is an incredible filly and I appreciate the ride from the owners and Shaune Ritchie. I can’t wait for the Oaks.”

Jennifer Eccles was bought for only $5000 at the 2017 National Weanling Sale at Karaka by syndicator Adrian Clark, and she has won three races and more than $268,000 in stakes for her 50-strong group of owners.

“Going into a mile and a half (2400m) in the Oaks, you’ve got that concern in the back of your mind that she might not get the trip, but she was dominant today,” Ritchie said. “Wasn’t she spectacular late?

“Having this many owners is just great atmosphere for racing. It’s irrelevant how much of a share you own – you can’t shake your own hand, and there are plenty of them here to shake hands with.”

The two remaining legs in the Filly of the Year Series are the $70,000 Group Three McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie on Saturday, and then the Oaks two weeks later.

View the full NZB Filly of the Year Series leaderboard here. 

Vendor Westend Partnership
Purchaser Adrian Clark Bloodstock Consultancy (Hamilton)
Breeding Rip Van Winkle – Platinum Elle
Sale Lot 221, 2017 National Weanling, Broodmare & Mixed Bloodstock, $5,000
Bred by Westend Partnership