THE New Zealand 1000 Guineas has claimed another short-priced favourite with Prom Queen failing to upset winner Hasahalo.
All the talk for months leading into the $300,000 group one feature was about slight filly Prom Queen, which had won eight of her nine career starts, but Hasahalo spoiled the party by sprouting angel wings down the Riccarton straight.
Boasting a Karaka Million placing, the three-year-old filly ($23.70 at CrownBet) for Stephen McKee flew under the punters radar after an indifferent spring campaign, but its true class was on display when it counted on Saturday.
The daughter of Savabeel was dropped to the back of the field by noted front-running jockey Sam Spratt, but punters have seen its turn-of-foot from the back at Ellerslie and it came with a massive run to down the well-favoured Prom Queen and Dijon Bleu halfway down the straight.
“She just went past them like they were tied to the ground,” Spratt said. “I knew she had ability, she showed it as a two-year-old, but she’s just had some bad luck.
“It was awesome that everything went well. She can do it when she tries and she proved that.”
Its form leading into the 1000 Guineas wasn’t flash, but trainer Stephen McKee was happy with its performance at Ellerslie and he knew he had a filly capable of taking out the Cup week feature.
“I was really happy with the run at Ellerslie,” he said. “We had to go back in a strong rating 85 and she never really got in the clear, but she still came home in the fastest last 600m of the day.
“I said to Albert (Bosma) we’ll roll the dice and see how we go.”
The race didn’t quite pan out the way McKee thought it would, but going back in a hot-tempo race and coming down centre track was a consistent tactic at Riccarton on Saturday.
“I said to Sam ‘if you can’t get the fourth or fifth position that we wanted, don’t panic’. I was confident we had the best sprint in the race along with Prom Queen and we only questioned about running a strong mile,” McKee said.
The win ended a dry spell for the Ardmore Lodge team, but after suffering defeat in this race a few years back with O’Marilyn as the odds-on favourite, McKee knows just how the trainer of Prom Queen is feeling.
“I certainly do. Any group one when you’re odds on… everybody is having a shot at you,” he said. “I’m just happy for the team as we’ve had three second placings and a couple of thirds in this race.”
Kenny Rae didn’t blame the track for the disappointing effort from Prom Queen, but believed it wasn’t at full fitness.
“100m to go I thought she would run int he first three, but she’s had a minor setback with the dust and whatnot,” Rae said. “We came into the race four days ago 120 percent, but the last few days about 95 percent., you have to come into these races 120 percent.
“She’s done a good job.”