Prowess (NZ) Heads Karaka Quinella in Crystal Mile

29 October 2023

Karaka graduates stole the show in the Group Two McCafe Crystal Mile (1600m) on the world-famous Cox Plate Day at Moonee Valley on Saturday, finishing first and second in the A$300,000 feature.

Prowess Yearling
Prowess (NZ) pictured as yearling.

The race was won by top-class Kiwi mare Prowess (NZ) (Proisir), who was a $230,000 purchase by trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood from Hallmark Stud’s draft at Karaka 2021. Her outstanding 11-start career has produced eight wins, three placings and more than $1.5 million in stakes.

The runner-up in the Crystal Mile was Antino (NZ) (Redwood), who was bought for $27,000 from the 2020 Ready to Run Sale – a sale that will be staging its 2023 edition at Karaka in just a few weeks’ time. Antino has had 13 starts for nine wins and three placings, earning A$715,415.

Victory in the Crystal Mile on Saturday capped a satisfying comeback for Prowess, whose three-year-old campaign last season featured sensational victories in the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), the Group One New Zealand Stakes (2050m) and Sydney’s Group One Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).

An ambitious spring campaign aimed at the Group One Cox Plate (2040m) was held up by small but frustrating setbacks in the early part of the spring, and then Prowess resumed with a second placing on an unsuitable wet track in the Group Three Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Hawera on October 7.

On Saturday the real Prowess was back at the peak of her powers. Rider Mark Zahra positioned her in fourth along the rail before going forward to tackle the leader Tuvalu (Kermadec) at the top of the straight.

Prowess quickly got the better of that rival and went clear, then had enough left in the tank to repel the late challenge of Antino, who dived through along the inside but missed by a short neck.

“It is great to be back over here and winning again,” Wellwood said. “Ideally we would have liked to have been running in the Cox Plate today, but she just had a few little niggles. They weren’t major, but just stopped us at some crucial times.

“We’ve been able to get the preparation back on track now. All going well from here, we’ll head to the last day at Flemington for the Champions Stakes (Group One, 2000m), and we’re really looking forward to seeing her back up over further again.

“She’s in awesome order, and in hindsight, the setbacks have probably been a blessing in disguise. She’s developed, and I really think she’ll be even bigger and stronger next year. She’s pretty immature.”

It was a perfect reunion for Zahra, whose only previous ride on Prowess was in the Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill in late March.

“She’s as big and strong as ever,” he said. “I think the barrier boys were calling her a boy. She’s huge. She’s a big mare and I reckon she’ll improve a lot from today.

“There’s still a lot of improvement to come. When I got the gap, I thought she’d scoot away. I reckon she’s still a bit rusty this prep and will improve off that.”

Vendor Hallmark Stud
Purchaser Mr RA James/Mr R Wellwood (Waikato)
Breeding Proisir – Donna Marie
Sale Lot 353, Karaka 2021 Book 1, $230,000
Bred by Hallmark Stud Ltd


Photo : Bruno Cannatelli