Superstar Orchestral (NZ) Completes Vinery Double for James and Wellwood

2 April 2024

For the second year in a row, Cambridge trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood have ventured to Sydney and won the A$750,000 Group One Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill with a high-class filly they bought out of the Karaka sale ring.

Saturday’s slice of Australian Group One gold came with Orchestral (NZ) (Savabeel), who James and Wellwood secured for $625,000 from Haunui Farm’s Book 1 draft at Karaka 2022. She has now had nine starts for six wins, two placings and almost $2m in stakes.

Orchestral followed in the footsteps of her multiple Group One-winning stablemate Prowess (NZ) (Proisir), who was a $230,000 purchase from Karaka 2021. She counts the Vinery among her eight wins in a 12-start career that has banked more than $1.5m.

“We're a small stable from New Zealand, and to do it with horses we've bought ourselves and then bring them across and win this race two years in a row is thrilling,” Wellwood said on Saturday.

Adding to that thrill is the enormous and still untapped potential of Orchestral. She has now won all of her last five races in a row, including dominant performances to win the $1m TAB Karaka Millions 3YO (1600m) by three and a half lengths, the Group Two Avondale Guineas (2100m) by four lengths, and the $1m Group One New Zealand Derby (2400m) by three and three-quarter lengths. The second placegetter in the Derby was Antrim Coast (NZ) (Roc De Cambes), who won last weekend’s Group Two Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) in Melbourne in his next start.

Expectations were sky-high for Orchestral in Saturday’s Vinery, and despite a few nervous moments during the running, the rising superstar delivered.

Jockey James McDonald gave Orchestral a comfortable run in fourth, and the race was largely uneventful until around the 600-metre mark. But then rival jockey Nash Rawiller made a bold move on Tutta La Vita (The Autumn Sun), charging forward from third to take command. They opened up a big lead on Orchestral and threw down a challenge unlike anything the hot favourite had faced before.

But Orchestral’s special quality shone through down the Rosehill straight, responding to McDonald’s urgings and lengthening stride to overpower Tutta La Vita and win by just under a length.

“She had to have all the quality today,” McDonald said. “She was out on her feet, but like good ones do, she overcame it. She’s just very good. It’s a weird feeling riding her, because the first time I ever sat on her, I hopped off her and thought, ‘There’s something damned, damned good about this thing.’

“I haven’t had this much confidence going into a race since I was riding Anamoe, when I knew he was just unbeatable. I thought she was unbeatable today. I thought she would win a little bit easier, but she was a little bit ring-rusty. She took the last bend a little bit awkwardly, and the slowly run race wasn’t really to our liking. Stepping up in trip next start is just going to be perfect for her.

“I knew two days ago, with Nash booked on Tutta La Vita, something was going to happen. So I was aware it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when and just being alert to it. I would have preferred to sit and not have to chase from that far away, but it shows how tough she is.

“She had to do all the donkey work to chase that horse, which is not that easy to do. She cornered not that well and then she was a sitting duck, so for her to fight like that was incredible. She pulled up having a bit of a blow, so she’ll improve.”

James and Wellwood will now point Orchestral towards either the Group One Australian Derby (2400m) or the Group One Australian Oaks (2400m).

“It's a great effort by the filly today, coming back from a mile and a half to now win over 2000 metres,” Wellwood said. “That residual fitness kicked in at the end.

“I thought we were tracking into it nicely, but Tutta La Vita got a little break on us. Halfway up the straight, I thought we were going to have to be very tough to win, and she was that.

“No decision will be made until we see her trot up and have a chat to connections, but the best thing is she has ticked the first box and got a Group One in Australia.”

Orchestral completed a feature double at Rosehill on Saturday for graduates of Haunui Farm yearling drafts. The Group Three Hyland Race Colours Baillieu (1400m) was won by Linebacker (NZ) (Super Seth), who was bought for $160,000 from Karaka 2023.

A full-brother to Orchestral was offered by Haunui during Book 1 of Karaka 2024, where he was bought for $310,000 by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Vendor Haunui Farm
Purchaser Mr RA James/Mr R Wellwood (Waikato)
Breeding Savabeel – Symphonic
Sale Lot 635, Karaka 2022 Book 1, $625,000
Bred by Barneswood Farm Ltd