Desert Lightning made a belated start to his racing career earlier this month and the wait proved worthwhile at Ruakaka where the colt was an impressive winner.
That performance has earned the Peter and Dawn Williams-trained son of Pride Of Dubai a crack at black type level in Saturday’s Group 3 Fairview Matamata Slipper (1200m) and an opportunity to prove his tractability.
“He’ll have a go there and his first time left-handed so we thought it would be a nice race for him,” said Peter Williams, who trains the youngster with wife Dawn.
While Desert Lightning was at long odds at his first appearance, the result was far from surprising to the Byerley Park stable.
“He was good and he was a bit green and still is, but the result was definitely not a surprise – he’s always showed us ability,” Williams said.
“COVID buggered us up a bit with him and when we did have him ready to race we had to turn him out, it’s just been a few little things that held us up. Having said that, a bit more time hasn’t hurt him either.”
Desert Lightning was a NZD$150,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale purchase out of the draft of Little Avondale Stud, who will offer his half-brother by Per Incanto as Lot 330 at Karaka next month.
They are out of the High Chaparral mare Isstoora, who is from the family of the multiple Group One winner and champion sire Redoute’s Choice.
Desert Lightning is raced by long-time stable clients Sarah Green and Ger Beemsterboer, who race under their Barneswood Farm banner, and their association with the stable has most notably been highlighted by the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Planet Rock.
Their familiar racing jacket of orange with white stars will also be sported at Matamata on Saturday by Savabeel’s daughters Slave To Love and Helsinki.
Slave To Love has won twice from 11 starts, but her quality is emphasised by multiple Group placings including a third in the Group 2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) two starts back before she wasn’t far away when ninth in the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m).
She will return to middle distance racing in the Listed Matamata Veterinary Services Kaimai Stakes (2000m).
“She missed out on a couple of races through postponements, but it hasn’t been a major for us. There has been nothing wrong with all of her runs this season and she has been placed over 2000m before,” Williams said.
Slave To Love finished runner-up in last season’s Group 2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) behind subsequent Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) winner Amarelinha.
Helsinki has been nominated for both the Gavelhouse.com (1600m) and the New World Matamata (1400m) on Saturday with a decision to be made on Wednesday which race she steps out in.
The four-year-old shed her maiden tag last time out at Ruakaka following seven minor placings, including a runner-up finish in the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial (1500m).
“That will give her confidence and she has been unlucky a couple of times, but then again she has let us down a couple of times as well,” Williams said. “She’s won one now so hopefully it continues.”