Northern raider snares Trotting Oaks

Con Grazia Love and driver Maurice McKendry - Photo: HRNZ
Con Grazia Love and driver Maurice McKendry

Photo: HRNZ

Cambridge trainer Sean McCaffrey loves when a plan comes together and that is exactly what happened at Addington Raceway on Friday night when Con Grazia Love won the Gr.1 ‘What The Hill’ at Woodlands New Zealand Trotting Oaks (1980m).

“We are very happy. When you come on a mission it is very fulfilling when you get it accomplished,” McCaffrey said.

“You have got to figure that you are good enough for a start and she just keeps stepping up and we are lucky that everything fell into place.

“We raced at Cambridge last start and after that I said ‘we are off’. I sent her down to the Hopes last week and they settled her through and have done a perfect job.”

The daughter of Love You settled midfield for driver Maurice McKendry who sent her forward down the back straight to sit outside leader Hidden Talent where he continued to apply pressure.

Con Grazia Love showed her determination when heading her rival at the top of the straight and eventually running out a one length victor over Hidden Talent, with a further length back to Paramount Empress in third.

“The biggest worry is getting around the first corner without any trouble. When you are on the second row you are at the mercy of others,” McCaffrey said.

“Once we got around the first corner and she had a nice spot on the outside I was pretty happy. But then you look up and see the favourite (Hidden Talent) in front and Mark (Purdon) is behind her (with Paramount Empress) you think this is going to be a bit tough.

“But I knew Maurice would get going down the back because he said at Cambridge (last start when runner-up) had he gone earlier she would have won easily.

“He wasn’t scared to put her in the race, which I was quite happy with. He likes her and he said she just keeps running. She stood to that tonight.”

It was a sentimental victory for McCaffrey, with his strong association with the family – having trained and co-bred her dam Con Grazia and trained her second dam, Group Two winner Chiola’s Lass.

Chiola’s Lass proved to be a broodmare gem, with her progeny including multiple Group One winners Allegro Agitato and Skyvalley, Group Two performer Cabaletta, and nine-win mare Rondo.

“I had her grandmother and her mother and we lent Johnny (Taylor) the mare (Con Grazia) to breed,” McCaffrey said.

“It is a good family and Denis Lauren, Pip Gerard and I have had plenty of success out of the breed.

“This (Oaks win) sets this filly up as a broodmare. She is by Love You and out of a good family and he can breed foals out of her for the next 20 years and they will all be looked at the sales because she is an Oaks-winning filly.”

While Con Grazia Love is showing plenty of promise as a three-year-old, McCaffrey has a stark warning for her opposition.

“I think she will get better as we go,” he said. “She is not the biggest or strongest looking filly, she is still leggy and lean. I think she will be five before she is really filling out. We have still got a long way to go with her I think.

“She is such a good-natured horse, and she doesn’t knock herself around and she is going to get better with age.”

McCaffrey is now looking forward to returning to Addington next week where Con Grazia Love will attempt to record back-to-back Group One victories in the New Zealand Trotting Derby (2600m).

“We have always said that if she went good enough on the first night we would line her up in the Derby, and she has gone more than good enough,” he said.

Meanwhile, later on the card Resolve was a dominant 1-1/2 length victor in the Gr.2 Trotting Mares Handicap Trot (2600m), while in the meeting’s other trotting feature, the Gr.2 Sires’ Stakes 2YO Championship (1980m), High Energy proved too good for her rivals when winning by 1-1/2 lengths.


This product has been added to your cart