Hilary Comprehensively Outstays Her Hatrick Rivals

Tuesday’s running of the $30,000 Accell Therapy Wanganui Distance over the 755m journey at the Hatrick Raceway sure was a true staying test which was entirely appropriate given the staying test that the equine thoroughbreds had completed just over an hour beforehand in Melbourne. As commentator Mark Rosanowski said in his meeting preview, “It’s a real honour to call the only other Group 1 race contested throughout Australasia on Tuesday.”


Pictured: The Wanganui Distance winner Opawa Hilary seen here winning her NZ Australian Nationals Distance final (pic Dave Robbie)


Opawa Hilary jumped quickly into the race lead when she exited from the six trap. She was cruising in her work when rounding the first turn for her conditioners Dave and Jean Fahey. Pushing up along the rail to get into a handy position was the Angela Turnwald favoured contender Kamada Park.


Kamada Park took over the pace when coming up the home straight the first occasion with Opawa Hilary taking a sit in behind him. It was a bunched pack chasing further behind them. Kamada Park really stretched out when racing down the back straight and he looked set to land Group 1 glory when he led by around five lengths when approaching the final turn.


Leading the chase after the freewheeling pair was Grunty Mama who was going the race of her short career for his trainers Sue and Cor Blackburn. Another Turnwald prepared stayer Hot Platter was in the chase group as was the Steve and Bonnie Evans trained Goldstar Sydney.


Entering the home straight Kamada Park “hit the wall” as Roso summed up afterwards. Taking huge late strides and railing underneath was Opawa Hilary and she strongly punched through to snatch her Group 1 title by a short length, clocking 45.35s for her assignment.


Kamada Park gamely held second, holding a comfortable three-length margin over a really bold Grunty Mama who indicated that her future racing forte is going to be over the longer race distances. Charging home late, a further length behind was Know Anxiety. It was to be the second Group 1 fourth placing for this Gary Cleeve mentored stayer who occupied the same placing in the Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar (779m) final.


This was a thoroughly deserved Group 1 victory for Opawa Hilary who is a member of the December 2016 whelped Barcia Bale and Opawa Michelle litter. She also picked up the $1,000 Breeders bonus attached to the race for his breeders and owners the Opawa Racing team. She also had a more “relaxed” trip north on this occasion after the harrowing ferry ordeal that the Canterbury trained stayers endured when travelling north for the heats.


“Yes, that heat trip was a nightmare. We really appreciate what Steve Maher did in helping getting them to track – they arrived around 20 minutes before the first heat was raced. Hilary came back home after her heat. She was very good in the final – she’s a real tough stayer so to win the race like she did was very satisfying,” commented Dave Fahey who indicated that Opawa Hilary will be aimed towards the NZ Cup night 732m staying feature the Sockburn Cup. 



Previous pics of the Wanganui Distance winner Opawa Hilary with Opawa Racing’s Graham Campbell (left), handler Mark Lin & Robin Wales after her NZ Australian Nationals Distance final win at Addington; with handler Jed Roberts after her recent Cambridge NZRS Distance win; runner up Kamada Park


Opawa Hilary has developed into a genuine, high-class stayer. The recent New Zealand representative to the Australian Nationals Distance final in Perth has now advanced her career stake earnings out to $75,676 (excluding Breeders bonus payments) which is a result of her eleven wins and 19 minor placings from her 50 race day outings.


“It was a really nice win, although going down the back straight the last time I admit I was hoping that she would hold on for second with Kamada Park so far in front of her – I didn’t think she would catch that guy. It was a great result for all of us,” confirmed Opawa Racing’s manager Robin Wales.              


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 08 November 2019

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