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Valachi Fillies Dominate Royal Stakes

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Needle and Thread (Makfi) claims the Group Two Valachi Downs Royal Stakes (2000m).

The sixth leg of the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series provided a special result for the sponsor, with the first and second placegetters in Friday’s $100,000 Group Two Valachi Downs Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie both bred and owned by Valachi Downs principal Kevin Hickman. 

The race was emphatically won by Needle and Thread (Makfi), who is a full-sister to the Group One performer and Valachi Downs stallion Savile Row (NZ) (Makfi).

Needle and Thread won on debut at Rotorua last month, and she was a solid fourth in the Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m) on Boxing Day. But it was a very different story on New Year’s Day, as jockey Craig Grylls sent Needle and Thread straight to the lead and never looked back.

Needle and Thread ran her rivals into the ground, bounding clear in the home straight and opening up for a commanding victory by four and a half lengths.

Stablemate and fellow Hickman homebred Lily’s Lady (NZ) (Contributer) made up good ground late in the piece to snatch second place in a tight finish for the minor placings. Il Affare (NZ) (Dundeel) was third.

“It’s just great to get the win for Kevin and Jo (Hickman) and all the Valachi team,” Grylls said. “She went a really good race on Boxing Day and has backed that up today. The plan was to go forward and she travelled strongly throughout.

“I definitely think she could be an Oaks (2400m) filly, especially if she can just settle a little bit more.”

Needle and Thread delivered a first black-type win for the training team of Stephen Autridge and Kris Shailer, who went into partnership earlier this season.

“We thought that she would back up well and the 2000 metres would suit her, but she was more impressive than we thought she might be,” Shailer said.

“Craig rode her a treat, rated her nicely and she had them off the bridle a long way from home. It’s great for Kevin and his wife Joanna as they put so much into racing. It’s a big team effort, so I’m delighted for everyone.

“We’ll see how they both pull up from this, give them a quiet week and then look to how we might be able to get them to the New Zealand Oaks.”

Needle and Thread collected 8 points for her Royal Stakes victory, which moves her straight into equal second place on the Filly of the Year Series table. She shares that spot with Amarelinha (NZ) (Savabeel), who won the Eight Carat Classic on Boxing Day.

Lily’s Lady earned 4 points, while Il Affare picked up 2.

The leader is still Group One New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Kahma Lass (NZ) (Darci Brahma), who has amassed 15 points but has not raced since her triumph at Riccarton in November.

The next leg of the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series is the $70,000 Group Three Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on January 30.