NEWS PREVIEW

Pint-sized Philipa too tough for Ellerslie rivals

Asked by a number of people before the race just how their seven-year-old would handle the extremely testing track conditions, part-owner Sheena MacGregor was brutally honest in the assessment of their chances.
“I just told people that none of the horses would handle a track like that but our mare was super tough and we hoped that when they all started walking in the final stages she was at the front of the pack,” she laughed.
“It was as heavy as I’ve ever seen it anywhere and you could see in the earlier races that even the winners were down to a walk at the end.
“We knew our mare would just keep trying as she never gives up and if she could be in front in the closing stages then they would find it hard to run her down.
“As you can see there is practically nothing of her so the small claim she got with Sam Weatherley on board certainly helped and she managed to get the job done.”
After showing immense promise in her first season of racing with a brace of wins and a third placing in Listed three-year-old company, the Bachelor Duke mare dramatically lost form in her subsequent campaigns. Returning this winter as a rising seven-year-old she has now strung together three wins on the trot as she nears the end of her racing career.
“After she started so well we really thought she could go through the grades but then she just seemed to lose form and we couldn’t figure out why,” explained MacGregor.
“She was backwards and forwards to Massey University for testing but they couldn’t pinpoint anything so we would get her going and then have to tip her out again when she didn’t come up as we wanted.
“We tried to get her in foal last year but she missed so we decided to give her another go this winter and she is just a completely different horse.
“She really seems to have come to it as a seven-year-old which is a little hard to explain but we certainly aren’t complaining.
“She doesn’t handle the better tracks so once they start to firm up that will be all for her and we will try and get her in foal again.
“While she’s going well we will press on and if she can sneak into the field we might take a shot at the Merial Mile this Saturday to see if we can add some more black type to her record.”
MacGregor and partner Russell Caddy, who co-owns and trains the mare, have yet to confirm a potential mating however are looking towards Cambridge Stud’s Burgundy as a leading option.

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