The autumn emergence of gifted staying filly Pennyweka has presented Jim Wallace with an opportunity to return to the main stage in Australia.
The Masterton trainer will be chasing a Classic double with the daughter of Satono Aladdin, who will bid to add Saturday’s Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick to her clear-cut victory in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham.
Wallace was a regular visitor across the Tasman two decades ago with his Group 1 Kelt Capital Stakes (2040m) and Group 1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) winner Cent Home.
The high-class son of Lord Ballina made several trips to Australia and was successful in the 2001 Group 2 St George Stakes (1800m) and Group One placed the following year in the CF Orr Stakes (1400m) and in the 2003 All Aged Stakes (1600m).
“That was a long time ago now and he was a frequent flier and managed to pay his way every time. He gave us a lot of fun so we’re hoping this filly can do the same,” Wallace said.
“It will be interesting to see how many pay up, depending on who you talk to over here it doesn’t seem like there will be a full field.”
Pennyweka’s stamina and versatility, she is proven on wet and dry tracks, will stand her in good stead on Saturday.
“She will handle most conditions and Damian Lane will ride her,” Wallace said.
It was also Pennyweka’s powers of recovery following a dominant performance to win the New Zealand Oaks that made the trip to Sydney a reality, albeit at an added cost.
“The ATC rang me about 10 days before the Oaks at home and said the second payment is due and do you want to pay up, I said no, we won’t make the second payment,” Wallace said.
“I was thinking at that stage that by the time she ran the mile and a-half at Wellington she would be due for a bit of a break.
“She came home after Trentham and three or four days after the race she looked better than she did going into it so we changed our minds.
“It cost us $22,000 to do it so we’re hoping it was money well spent.”
At least the fee has been well spread with Pennyweka raced by breeders Wallace and brother Les and the more than 70-strong Galloping Wekas Jazweka Syndicate.
“I think about 36 or 38 of them are coming over at the last count that I heard so there will be a fair few of them here,” Wallace said.
The lightly raced Pennyweka had finished third in the Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) and runner-up in the Group 2 Lowland Stakes (2100m) before her Oaks triumph.
While all nine of her career appearances have been made in the Central Districts, she has handled the overseas venture like a seasoned professional.
“She came over on Sunday and travelled well in her first time away from home overnight,” Wallace said.
“She went to Auckland on Saturday night and then came over and she’s done very nicely.
“We’re based at Michael Freedman’s stable at Hawkesbury and everything is going very well at this stage.”