Stakes Success for Sassy Merlot (NZ)

22 April 2024

A purchase price of just $24,000 for Sassy Merlot (NZ) (Burgundy) in Book 3 of Karaka 2020 has turned into more than $180,000 in stakes, capped by a coveted black-type win in Saturday’s $80,000 Listed Daphne Bannan Memorial Great Easter Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton.

Sassy Merlot (NZ) in Saturday’s $80,000 Listed Daphne Bannan Memorial Great Easter Stakes.

Bred and sold by Advantageous Ventures, Sassy Merlot was bought by Paul Moroney Bloodstock and Ballymore Stables NZ. She has now earned almost eight times her purchase price, with Saturday’s Listed victory sending her value even higher.

Sassy Merlot showed talent from the early stages of her career, placing in the Group Two Wellington Guineas (1400m), Group Three Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) and Group Three Rotorua Stakes (1400m) during an enormously promising three-year-old season.

She has struggled for consistency in the two seasons since then, but an autumn visit to the South Island produced a confidence-boosting win in a Rating 75 race at Ashburton on April 4. That was a springboard to even greater heights at Riccarton on Saturday.

Ridden by Lisa Allpress, Sassy Merlot cost herself the opportunity to adopt her usual forward running style when she was slow to leave the starting gates. She instead settled in midfield, then pounced at the home turn and raced to the lead with a slick turn of foot.

Challengers tried to reel her in down the Riccarton straight, but Sassy Merlot kept going strongly and held on by a length.

“That was a strong performance,” Allpress said. “My instructions went out the window a few seconds before we jumped. She was just standing there like a statue, and I knew she wasn’t going to jump well. There wasn’t much I could do about it at that stage.

“I was supposed to ride her forward, but I had no choice but to go back and get some cover, then try to find a nice back to follow into the race. It all worked out nicely in the end and she kicked really well.

“Her last-start win was phenomenal, and I knew she had that residual fitness on her side as well. When I asked her in the straight, she just shot out from underneath me. It was a good feeling.”

Sassy Merlot is trained at Matamata by Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard.

“She’s been a tough horse all the way through,” Gerard said. “It’s just a little bit harder up north, especially when you get tracks that aren’t quite to suit. I’m really pleased now that we talked the owners into coming down.

“She’s come down here and had one-on-one attention over the last few weeks. Richie (Fallon) has just done the most amazing job and got her back into form. When I saw her after I got off the plane this morning, I thought she’d just gone to another level.”

Vendor Advantageous Ventures
Purchaser Paul Moroney Bloodstock/Ballymore Stables NZ (Waikato)
Breeding Burgundy – Saveadance
Sale Lot 1204, Karaka 2020 Book 3, $24,000
Bred by Advantageous Ventures Ltd