There will be no winter blues for veteran trainer Jim Wallace this year, who will shortly return from a well-deserved break overseas.
The Opaki horseman has been visiting family in America this month but will be straight back in the training fold with his small string of racehorses, which is headed by dual Oaks winner Pennyweka.
The daughter of Satono Aladdin is back in work and has been put through her early paces by his daughter Rachel ahead of a spring campaign.
“Pennyweka is very well,” Wallace said from Kentucky.
“She has been in work just on a month, I have just spoken to my daughter who is looking after her and she is coming along fine.
“She has put on weight and has grown. We are looking forward to the spring.
“She is a very relaxed individual that takes everything in her stride. That is one of the reasons we could do what we did with her in the Oaks.
“I was on record as saying after the New Zealand Oaks (Group 1, 2400m) that we would put her in the paddock, but she did so well we put her on the plane and took her to Australia and she never left an oat and did the business (when winning the Group 1 Australian Oaks, 2400m). She is a delight to have around.”
A superior stayer, Pennyweka is likely to race in New Zealand before options in Sydney and Melbourne are considered.
“We haven’t finalised a program. There are all sorts of possibilities. She has a lot of improvement in her and I think she will be better in 12 months’ time,” Wallace said.
“When I get home, I will have a sit down with my brother Les and his wife Janine (syndicate manager) but there are plenty of options for her in Sydney and Melbourne.
“A race like the Metropolitan (Group 1, 2400m) would be an ideal target for her. I’m not sure about the Caulfield Cup (Group 1, 2400m), I don’t think four-year-old mares have a great record in it.
“There are plenty of other races around over ground that should suit her well.”
A tilt at the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) is not on the radar this spring.
“I just think it is too big an ask. I’m a bit old fashioned on that and I think she will be better next year as a five-year-old,” Wallace said.
The Group 1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) at Hastings on September 30 shapes as the perfect starting point for the rising four-year-old, who has proved adept in all conditions.
“I think it is highly probable that she will go to Hastings and a race like the middle leg of the Hawke’s Bay triple crown (Arrowfield Plate) would be a good kick off for her,” Wallace said.
“We know she handles softer tracks but I don’t think she necessarily needs them.
“She had one run as a two-year-old and that was on a very firm track. She hadn’t had a trial or jump out or anything and we threw her in the deep end and she came from the back and flashed home to run third behind (subsequent Group winner) Diss Is Dramatic in a tick over 33 seconds for the last 600m.
“I think she is pretty versatile and there is plenty to look forward to in the seasons ahead.”