It may have taken an extra seven days to come to fruition but Matamata mare La Crique got a deserved success at the highest level when she took out the Group 1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) at Matamata on Saturday.
The four-year-old daughter of Vadamos had been a heavily backed favourite to take the race at Hastings last weekend but with heavy rain forcing the abandonment of that meeting, connections had to wait an extra week before lining up in the Group One feature on their home track after it was transferred to the Matamata meeting.
Trainer Katrina Alexander, who prepares the mare in conjunction with husband Simon for owners John and Jan Cassin, had exuded a quiet confidence leading into the race but even she was taken back by the demolition job her charge wreaked on her rivals.
Settled beautifully in an early trailing position by regular pilot Craig Grylls, La Crique travelled beautifully before easing up on the inside of pacemaker Deerfield to assume control at the 600m mark.
Grylls pushed the button on La Crique as he rounded the home bend and soon had race favourite Imperatriz ($1.80) and the pursuing pack off the bit as they attempted to chase her down.
Maintaining a powerful gallop to the line, La Crique won comfortably by four lengths from Mustang Valley who ran home resolutely to shade Prise De Fer for second, with Imperatriz weakening out to finish a well beaten eighth.
Alexander, who was swamped by well-wishers after the race, admitted she started to get excited when she saw her charge take control approaching the home bend.
“As soon as I saw her go at the 700m and he (Grylls) had to say wait, I was pretty confident,” she said.
“He had very clear instructions when we legged him on and that was to not let them stack it up with the pacemaker and he rode her just awesome.
“It was great to see her get back to her style of racing as she has fantastic tactical speed and she just loves that freewheeling style.
“She bloody deserved that today.”
Alexander advised that there was a strong likelihood that she would back La Crique up in the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings next Saturday with online bookmakers instantly installing her as the dominant $2 favourite in the Fixed Odds market.
“It has been talked about (tackling the Livamol Classic) as the fact is we can get her home from here in forty minutes and she can have her head down in the paddock which means her recovery will be fantastic,” she said.
“It’s definitely not off the cards to go there (Hastings).”
Grylls, who has now won four times on the mare, heaped generous praise on his mount after she provided him with an armchair ride.
“It probably wasn’t the prettiest of rides but the plan was always to go forward,” he said.
“I just had to do enough to keep Deerfield one off the fence and ride my mare like she was the best horse in the race.
“I let her slide from the 500m and she was just too good.
“After the way she worked here on Wednesday, I have never been so confident going into a Group One race like I was today.
“It is a great result for the whole team and she showed she is a very classy animal and one of the best I have ever sat on.”
La Crique has now won six of her ten starts and over $546,000 in prizemoney.
The victory also capped a stellar day for Rich Hill Stud who stand both La Crique’s sire Vadamos as well as Proisir, the sire of Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) winner Pier.
La Crique becomes the first Group One winner for her sire who commenced duties at Rich Hill in 2017 and stands for a fee of $15,000+GST for the 2022 breeding season.
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