Gwen’s Daughter prevails in opening Stella Artois qualifier
The mare had run second behind an impressive Uderzo a week prior at Tauranga but may have been much closer having veered towards the outer rail in the closing stages, and came into Saturday’s event rated a $10.90 fifth-favourite with TAB bookmakers.
With the addition of blinkers at Pukekohe, Gwen’s Daughter shot out of the gates almost a length clear of her 13 race-rivals under Ashvin Goindasamy, before slotting into a comfortable trailing position on the fence behind bold pacemaker In Her Presence.
The daughter of El Roca travelled strongly into the home straight taking up the lead effortlessly, and despite attempting to veer outwards in her typical fashion from the 200m, displayed raw ability to hold off Navigator and Slipper Island by three-quarters-of-a-length.
“She’s a genuine mare, but she’s got to have a little bit of cut in the ground, so we were pleased she got that one,” Ritchie said.
“She has got one bad habit, as soon as she hits the front she just wanders. We put blinkers on her initially to try and keep her going straight but she still wobbles. A couple of times she’s gone right out towards the outside fence and cost herself races.
“She’s just that sort of mare really, doesn’t have that much confidence in herself.”
The victory assures Gwen’s Daughter a place in the Stella Artois 1500 Championship Final on Boxing Day at Pukekohe, however, Ritchie is cautious of dry track conditions before confirming her start.
“She’ll have to have a suitable track, it came back to a Good3 on Saturday, but I thought it might’ve been a Good4, which I think is her limit. She just can’t cope with it too hard,” he said.
“I probably won’t be giving her another run before then, she’s got enough points now to get in the race and that was the first time I’ve backed her up.
“She’s very tall and long-barrelled and doesn’t carry a lot of condition, so I found it better giving her time between races.
“We’ll be wishing for some rain around that time to keep it that way, if we do get that she’ll start and then out for a spell.”
Ritchie is in the ownership of the five-year-old, while he also trained her talented dam Gwen’s Rules who recorded nine victories and several black-type performances, including finishing runner-up in the 2003 Gr.1 Railway Stakes (1200m).
“Her mother was a lovely mare and she ran second in the Railway, even though she used to tie-up badly and had a number of issues,” he said.
“I loved her, she was a wonderful racehorse and put everything into it.”
Peter Archer, a Cambridge-based breeder and owner, had purchased Gwen’s Rules for just $9,000, and a number of years later bred her daughter alongside Westbury Thoroughbreds, who has now recorded three wins and five minor placings from 15 starts.