Savaglee dominant in Group 3 Matamata Slipper

A fruitless summer saw Savaglee slip under the radar in this season’s two-year-old crop, but that all changed with a brilliant upset victory in Saturday’s Gr.3 Fairview Matamata Slipper (1200m) on his home track.

The blue-blooded colt is by Savabeel out of Glee, who is a full-sister to the dam of Orchestral and a three-quarter-sister to the dam of Daffodil. Savaglee was bought by The Oaks Stud for $400,000 at Karaka last year, and he looked worth every cent of that purchase price with a scintillating four-length romp on debut at Trentham in October.

But Savaglee went winless in all of his next three starts. He was slowly away in the Listed Counties Challenge Stakes (1100m), then worked too hard to circle the field and force a fast pace. Those efforts took their toll and he faded into fifth.

He did things wrong and again did plenty of work in front when third at Pukekohe on Boxing Day, then ran a creditable fifth without all favours in the running in last month’s Karaka Millions 2YO (1200m).

Savaglee went out as the $16 outsider in Saturday’s six-horse Slipper field. The market was dominated by fellow local Move To Strike, who was the $1.55 favourite to deliver an extraordinary tenth Matamata Slipper win for Te Akau Racing. But in the end it was all about Savaglee.

Ridden by Sam Spratt for trainers Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard, Savaglee settled in fourth along the rail as the race broke up into three sets of pairs. Red Sea and Poetic Champion were side by side in the lead, followed by Move To Strike and Savaglee, with another couple of lengths back to Unbridled Joy and Full Force at the tail.

Poetic Champion shook free of Red Sea at the home turn, with Move To Strike beginning to warm up down the outside and posing a threat. Poetic Champion was showing no sign of slowing down, however, and by halfway down the straight he had kicked away and looked the winner.

But then Savaglee burst out of the pack with just over 100m remaining and swept up alongside Poetic Champion, and he gradually got the better of that rival through the final few strides to win by half a length.

“He was really good and had a good turn of foot,” Spratt said. “He travelled beautifully on the bit and did everything really well.”

The Oaks Stud’s general manager Rick Williams took special satisfaction from Savaglee joining a Matamata Slipper honour roll that also features stallions such as The Oaks Stud’s own Darci Brahma, along with the likes of Heroic Valour and Sword Of State.

“It great to win a stakes race here at Matamata, especially being a colt and winning what has become a stallion-making race,” he said. “We paid a lot of money for him, he’s a lovely horse and Sam gave him a great ride.”

Gerard was relieved to see Savaglee make a well-deserved return to winning form.

“I’m very grateful to Rick Williams and The Oaks Stud for giving us the opportunity to train such a lovely colt,” she said. “It comes with a little bit of pressure – we realise how much they put into it and that they have plans for this colt, who was sensational winning on debut and has now won again after racing so well in the Karaka Millions. Hopefully between us in New Zealand and Mike in Australia, we can get the results they want.

“He’s a Savabeel colt that is still getting there, but he’s shown very good ability. He learned a lot from Karaka Millions night and sat beautifully before showing a really good turn of foot today.

“We can’t wait to get him up over 1400m and hopefully keep the good results coming.”

Savaglee was bred by Waikato Stud, whose exciting first-season stallion Super Seth is the sire of runner-up Poetic Champion. – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk.


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