Trans-Tasman Oaks winner retired

Pennyweka winning the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m). Photo: Race Images – Peter Rubery

A year is a long time in racing and in 2023 the connections of Pennyweka experienced it all.

The daughter of Satono Aladdin took her seventy-strong The Galloping Wekas Jazweka Syndicate on a whirlwind ride in autumn, winning the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham before crossing the Tasman to claim the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick.

But the wheels came off their fairytale ride in spring when she finished 13th in the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and seventh in the Group 3 Metric Mile (1600m) at Awapuni a month later, which would prove to be the last outing of her racing career.

“After her last run at Manawatu in the mud and the slush, she didn’t recover quite as well as we expected her to. After a while we scoped her and she was found to have an epiglottic entrapment, which got ulcerated and very enlarged,” said trainer Jim Wallace, who bred Pennyweka in partnership with his brother Les.

“We sent her through to the Waikato Equine people who did a surgical procedure which they expected to take care of it, but it wasn’t as successful as we would like it to be.
“She couldn’t race to the level that she had before so the decision was made in consultation with the vets to call time.

“She has been a good mare and won a couple of Group Ones and had a couple of Group placings, so she has got plenty of good credentials as a broodmare.”

Pennyweka retires as the winner of three of her 12 starts and more than $1.1 million in prizemoney, with her Oaks victories being supported by placings in the Group 2 Lowland Stakes (2100m), Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m), and Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m).

Pennyweka’s win in the New Zealand Oaks was particularly sentimental for the Wallace family, who had gathered to celebrate the life of Madeleine Wallace, the late wife of Jim and Mary’s son David, at Ardsley Stud, and a day after Jim and Les’ mother, Margaret, died.

“The day at Trentham in itself was really special because of the circumstances surrounding it with the family, that was an absolute magic day,” Wallace said.

Initially not intending to head across the Tasman with his charge, Wallace quickly changed his mind a couple of days after Pennyweka’s New Zealand Oaks victory, and he is glad he did.

“I had declined the opportunity to make the second payment for the (Australian) Oaks before she ran at Wellington because I thought win, lose or draw she probably would have had enough,” he said.

“On the Monday following (her New Zealand Oaks win) she had a bit of a trot around and the girl that rides all the work for me, Vania Mason, came back and said she was better that day than she was on Friday.

“After a couple of days, we had a consult with the syndicate, made the payment, went to Sydney and the rest is history.

“Any time you can take something over to Australia is great. It had been a long time since I had one good to go. It was really satisfying.”

Wallace also enjoyed the atmosphere her sizeable syndicate brought to her races.

“They were magic,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot to do with the syndicate, my sister-in-law (Janine) runs those syndicates and she does a wonderful job with them. We had them all here the day after we got back from Australia. They were a fantastic group to deal with, they were so enthusiastic. They are all devastated with the news, but racing is a fickle business.”

The focus will now turn towards her future broodmare career, but Wallace said he and Les have yet to decide whether to breed from her themselves or accept one of the many offers on the table from several interested international breeders.

“We haven’t discussed that (future) as such yet,” he said. “There has been a huge amount of interest in her from commercial breeders throughout Australasia and further afield, but we will worry about that in the New Year. Les is away, so when he comes back we will have a sit down and talk about it and make some decisions.”

While the curtain has come down on the racing career of Pennyweka, the Wallaces still have plenty to look forward to from her family.

“We have got a half-brother going to the Karaka sales and the mare is safely in-foal to Satono Aladdin again, so there is a bit to look forward to,” he said.

Pennyweka’s half-brother will go through their Ardsley Stud draft at Karaka as lot 483, and Wallace said he is a more impressive type than his Group One-winning sibling.

“Looking at him physically, he is a much better type than she is. She is a pretty plain mare than can run like hell,” Wallace said.

“He is a very nice colt and is a strong, powerful and correct animal. Indications are that he should be able to run, he is a really nice horse.”

With the year quickly coming to an end, Wallace is taking the time to reflect on the highs and lows it has brought, and the thrill a homebred mare has brought to him, his family, and her sizeable syndicate.

“It has been a great ride,” he said.

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