Prowess (NZ) Steals the Show in Star-Studded Karaka Million 3YO Classic

21 January 2023

Brilliant filly Prowess (NZ) wins NZB's $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).

Super-talented filly Prowess (NZ) (Proisir) was slightly under the radar as she arrived at Pukekohe on Saturday to face one of the strongest fields in the history of the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), but she stepped out of the shadows and stole the show. 

Many had expected a match race between prolific winners Legarto (NZ) (Proisir) and Wild Night (NZ) (Vanbrugh), but the favourites were upstaged by a brilliant performance from Prowess. Bought by trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood for $230,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2021, she has now had six starts for four wins, two placings and $693,240 in stakes.

Prowess was bred by Hallmark Stud, who offered her in their Book 1 draft at Karaka two years ago.

Her Karaka Million 3YO heroics completed a dream double for Rich Hill Stud stallions, with Proisir siring the three-year-old winner less than 90 minutes after Satono Aladdin’s son Tokyo Tycoon (NZ) triumphed in the DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m).

Prowess has always looked like a special talent, winning her only two-year-old start by nine lengths and scoring again when she kicked off her three-year-old season at Cambridge in September.

She rounded out her spring preparation with a pair of third placings in the Group Three Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) and Group One New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), but then a bold win in the Group Two Auckland Guineas (1600m) on New Year’s Day hinted that she might be about to scale greater heights. She could have chosen no better moment to do it than at Pukekohe on Saturday.

“It’s pretty special,” James said. “I think this is certainly the best field of three-year-olds that we’ve seen assembled in New Zealand in quite some time.

“I truly believe that a number of these horses – hopefully us included – will be able to go and fly the flag for New Zealand racing and breeding in Australia, where it really matters.

“To put things into perspective, I think we bought nine horses at Karaka two years ago, and we’re here today competing against stables with eight to nine times that number. To come away with a win like this is hugely satisfying.

“The ownership group is headed by Dean Skipper, who had his first horse with me 30 years ago. He later went off to make his fortune, but he said he would be back, and when that happened, we went to Karaka and bought this filly. He and his family have been just a joy to have on board. Normally people have to race a few slow ones before getting a filly like this!”

Jockey Warren Kennedy had Prowess positioned in midfield, sitting just on the outside of Wild Night up to the 700-metre mark. She started to stride forward purposefully coming up to the home turn, then took the lead with ease at the top of the straight.

Wild Night and Desert Lightning (NZ) (Pride Of Dubai) gave it all they had to try to reel her in, with Legarto charging home late after struggling to find clear air. But there would be no catching Prowess, who took the win by three-quarters of a length.

It also completed a Karaka Million double for South African jockeys, with Kennedy following in the footsteps of Karaka Million 2YO winner Craig Zackey.

“We’re good mates but also very competitive, so I was happy to see him win the two-year-old race – but even happier that I’ve managed to win this one,” Kennedy said. “The two South African boys winning the million-dollar races is just fantastic. We’re delighted to be able to deliver results like this for all the owners and trainers who have put their support behind us.

“I’m still pinching myself and it hasn’t sunk in. She was up against a crack field today, but she really showed how good she is, and I think she’ll be even better once she gets up over 2000 metres. I just tried to keep her momentum up, and then gee, she powered home.”

Runner-up Wild Night was bought by Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis for $50,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2021. He has now had seven starts for five wins, a second and $336,390 in stakes.

Third-placed Desert Lightning was a $150,000 purchase from Book 1 of Karaka 2021. His nine starts have yielded a win, three placings and $204,020 in prize-money.

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