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Matchmaker (NZ) Spectacular in NZB Southern Filly Series Opener

Monday, October 5, 2020

Matchmaker (NZ) wins Leg 1 of NZB's Southern Filly of the Year Series.
Matchmaker (NZ) wins Leg 1 of NZB's Southern Filly of the Year Series.

With a scintillating performance in Saturday’s $50,000 Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton, Matchmaker (NZ) (Makfi) made a bold early statement in the New Zealand Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year Series – and honoured a proud family legacy.

The exciting filly races in the colours of the Wigley family’s Inglewood Stud, who also bred and raced Canterbury Belle (NZ) (Beaufort Sea), who was an exceptional performer through the early 1980s. Saturday’s race has been named in her honour since 1986.

“This is very special,” Inglewood Stud general manager Gus Wigley said in Saturday’s post-race presentation.

“My parents bred and raced Canterbury Belle, who was such a great horse for the South Island back in the 1980s. It means a lot to win the race named after her.”

Matchmaker is an Inglewood home-bred who went into Saturday’s race with a win and a second placing to her name from two career appearances. Her impressive maiden victory had prompted a partial sale to Sydneysider Manoj Wanzare.

But on Saturday she went to a new level in the opening leg of the 2020-21 Southern Filly Series, emphatically beating a quality field of fillies that featured well-credentialled northern raiders Cornflower Blue (NZ) (Savabeel) and Laced With Gold (NZ) (Showcasing).

Matchmaker was slow to leave the starting gate and dropped out near the back of the field, but jockey Tina Comignaghi bided her time and angled her into clear racing room at the top of the straight.

Then Matchmaker unleashed a withering late burst, flying past a dozen rivals and going away to win by a length and a quarter. She set a new race record with her time of 1:07.90.

Now being part-owned in Australia, Matchmaker’s future largely lies on that side of the Tasman. But first she has a date with a Group One dream in the $300,000 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 14.

“All of us have put a lot of work into this filly, and we’ve pulled it off today,” said Wigley, whose father Nick trains Matchmaker in partnership with Kayla Milnes. “Now, hopefully, it’s onwards and upwards into the Guineas.

“Another really special thing about this result is that it’s the first stakes win for Kayla. She’s a terrific horsewoman and a real asset to the team.”

Saturday’s win earned Matchmaker 7 points and an early lead in the Southern Filly Series points table. Runner-up Laced With Gold collected 4 points, while the third placegetter Stella Creek (NZ) (Per Incanto) picked up 2 points.

The New Zealand Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year Series now goes on a spring and summer hiatus, resuming in the autumn with the second leg, the $50,000 Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) at Wingatui on March 6.