Velocious Steals the Spotlight in Challenge Stakes
26 November 2023
Go Racing’s unbeaten filly Velocious (Written Tycoon) sent ripples through the 2023-24 crop of New Zealand two-year-olds with a spectacular performance in the $110,000 Listed Counties Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Pukekohe on Saturday.
It was the second win of an unblemished career for Velocious, who was bought for $190,000 from the Book 1 draft of breeders Inglewood Stud at Karaka 2023. Velocious has so far banked $86,250 in stakes, with the prospect of much more yet to come.
The Counties Challenge Stakes was the first stakes race of the season for two-year-olds in New Zealand, and three members of the select field of five had been highly impressive winners of their only previous starts – Velocious, Poetic Champion (NZ) (Super Seth) and Savaglee (NZ) (Savabeel). Bellatrix Star (NZ) (Star Witness) had recorded a win and a placing from two appearances, while first-starter Macaluso (NZ) (Savabeel) won a trial by a wide margin.
This was the first opportunity to see how some of the season’s most exciting juveniles measured up, and it was Velocious who rose to the occasion with a scene-stealing win.
The race was not run entirely to suit, with the speed coming out of the race as the field made their way down the side of the track. Velocious moved up behind the leaders and found herself with little room until well into the home straight.
But rider Sam Spratt found a way out into clear air down the outside, and Velocious did the rest. She produced a sizzling turn of foot and charged home from fourth, streaking past Bellatrix Star, Poetic Champion and Savaglee. By the time she reached the finish line, Velocious had dashed away and opened up a winning margin of a length and a half.
“They eased up a little bit as the race went on, and I was a bit worried that they might kick away at the corner,” Spratt said. “But she was pretty impressive last time without me having to ask her to do much, so I was fairly confident that she’d find the line again today.
“She’s a really nice filly. I think she’s going to be even better as a three-year-old and later. What she’s doing now, I think she’s just doing it on ability and class.”
Trainer Stephen Marsh is now open to comparisons with his star two-year-old of the 2012-13 season, Ruud Awakening (Bernardini), who carried those same Go Racing colours to sparkling victories in the Listed Wellesley Stakes (1000m), the $1m Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and the Group One Sistema Stakes (1200m).
“You’d have to start thinking about the Ruud Awakening comparisons after that performance,” Marsh said. “She looked awesome today.
“There wasn’t as much early speed as I thought there would be. We got back in the trail, and then they’ve really walked them.
“We had to come across their heels, and I thought they might be hard to get past after they had it pretty cheap in front. Jeez, to her credit, she knuckled down. She’s won really well in the end. That was smart – very smart. She’s beautifully bred and a stakes winner now, so it’s all ahead of her.”
|Go Racing (Auckland)
|Written Tycoon – Parmalove
|Lot 412, Karaka 2023 Book 1, $190,000