Apostrophe emphatic in potential Travis Stakes swansong

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  • April 29, 2024
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Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

If Apostrophe has run her final race, the talented mare signed off on a successful career in style with a powerful finish to capture the Gr.2 Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Apostrophe was purchased by her trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood for $60,000 at Karaka in 2019 and debuted in the middle of her three-year-old season and has aged like fine wine with each racing season bringing new heights for the now six-year-old mare.

This term has been the best yet with her familiar barnstorming finishes coming to the fore in stakes company, narrowly missing Group success in the Gr.3 Anniversary Handicap (1600m) in January going down by a head, and it was the same story back at Trentham two starts later with a long neck separating her from victory in the Gr.3 Cuddle Stakes (1600m).

Stepping out over 2100m in the Gr.3 Manawatu Breeders’ Stakes last time out, Apostrophe dominated the fillies and mares’ feature, and punters expected a repeat performance at Te Rapa backing her into $1.60 favouritism ahead of Saint Alice ($7).

The daughter of Tavistock was settled just worse than midfield by regular rider Masa Hashizume, with pacemaker Madame Le Fay taking control at the top. Last year’s Gr.2 Lowland Stakes (2100m) winner Val Di Zoldo made a break on the field turning for home, Apostrophe having a decent margin to make up with 300m to go.

She used the entire length of the Te Rapa straight to reel in her rivals, but the mare provided her signature late sprint to narrowly secure the victory over Saint Alice by a half-head, with Final Purchase running into third ahead of Val Di Zoldo, whose jockey Wiremu Pinn did a sterling effort to round out the top four after losing an iron late in the race.

James admired the performance of the mare, and indicated she may have made her final appearance on race-day after the Group Two feature.

“That was a tremendous effort today, halfway down the straight I though she couldn’t win, but she often does that, she hits a flat patch then sprints quickly. She did that at the end of a mile, and now has done it at the end of 2000m,” James said.

“Whether we go on I don’t know, she has had soundness issues and she’s done what every breeder wants to do with a mare, and she’s rising seven. This could be her last run.

“All credit to the staff at home, she’s high maintenance and there’s a lot of icing, poulticing and bandaging that goes into a horse like this. It’s a team effort, and it brings our team together when you get a win like this too.”

The Cambridge horseman paid credit to long-term Kingsclere Stables client Jim Hannan, who has had a string of success in thoroughbred ownership alongside his late wife Helen.

Based in Invercargill, the couple won the 1997 edition of Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) with their first horse in Foxwood, and also were victorious in the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) of 2000 with Spottswoode.

“This win was made far more special by Jim Hannan being here, he was up at 5 o’clock this morning, well into his 80’s, to catch a flight, and has been to Matamata to see his yearling as well. It would’ve made his day,” James said.

“His first horse with me was Foxwood who won a 2000 Guineas, and he’s been a very loyal and lucky owner since.”

In a 21-start career, Apostrophe has earned $314,810 in stakes with seven wins and six minor placings for the Inglewood Partnership, and was bred by the Greenwich Stud Pty Ltd.


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