La Fille En Jeu provided Nigel Auret with a bittersweet victory at Riccarton on Saturday.
The Gr.3 Valachi Downs South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes winner is a daughter of Mettre En Jeu, who stood at the family’s Letham Thoroughbreds operation on the outskirts of Wanganui until his recent passing.
“We went out to his paddock and found him dead, it’s a real shame,” Auret’s son Hamish said.
“The mare deserved that win, she’s been knocking on the door in black type races for a while. It’s good for her broodmare status for later on.”
La Fille En Jeu and rider Lisa Allpress took any bad luck out of the equation on Saturday and set a steady pace before surging clear 300m from home.
“I had to twist Lisa’s arm to come down here and it’s worked out really well,” said trainer Nigel Auret, who with wife Adaire bred and races the six-year-old.
He admitted to pre-race concerns about La Fille En Jeu coping with the Slow 7 track, but she held a strong gallop to the line to beat Elfee with Flying Sardine third and Bella Court, who is owned by race sponsor Kevin Hickman, fourth.
“It’s a huge thrill. She’s been two lengths behind them all season and today was her day,” Auret said.
For Allpress, who only resumed riding this week after serious shoulder injuries, it crowned an outstanding day after earlier wins aboard Final Say, Going To War, Taxihome and Opihi Jade. She also finished runner-up on Flag The Groom.