NZ’s leading jockey shows her worth

Samantha Collett
Samantha Collett
Northern jockey Samantha Collett showed why she is the country’s leading rider by winning the Dunedin Guineas and the Dunedin Gold Cup at Wingatui on Saturday.

Collett and Riccarton  trainers Shane Kennedy and Anna Furlong starred on Champions’ Day with a treble of wins including both $50,000 listed features.

Former North Island galloper Excelleration confirmed her position as the South Island’s  No1 3yr-old with a dominant win in the 1500m Dunedin Guineas.Collett had  such faith in the horse winning that she simply wanted to keep her filly out of trouble so she could show her best.

"It was a sit-and-steer job," Collett  said.

"She didn’t draw great so I just stayed out of trouble.  I didn’t see the point of trying to ride a pretty race from out there.  She did it so easy."

Collett  had no doubt  the 1600m of the Southland Guineas would be no trouble at all to Excelleration.  It was Excelleration’s first start as a South Islander after transferring to Kennedy and Furlong  from the Pukekohe barn of Nigel Tiley.  Her arrival in the South and  and the fact she was

in line for a hat-trick of Southern guineas races was by design,  Kennedy said.

"For her stud career, black type is quite important so we talked about it for a while and Nigel knew she was just a fraction below the good ones up there."

The task for her rivals to beat her over the extra 100m of the Southland Guineas later this month  will be  tough, as stepping further up in distance  was  expected to suit Excelleration even better, Kennedy said.

Excelleration and Samantha Collett win the listed Dunedin Guineas at Wingatui. Photo: JONNY TURNER
Excelleration and Samantha Collett win the listed Dunedin Guineas at Wingatui. Photo: JONNY TURNER

The Kennedy-Furlong and Collett combination helped vindicate the judgement of leading breeder and owner Kevin Hickman when Pendleton won the Dunedin Gold Cup.

Hickman advised Kennedy he thought Pendleton was a stayer in the making and she proved to be exactly that by running away with the 2400m feature.

"When we first got her she had a couple of runs up north and she didn’t show much," Kennedy said.

"Kevin was adamant she was going to stay and he said that is what he wants us to do and he was exactly right."

"He loves his stayers and that is the ultimate for him."

Hickman’s judgement means he now has another black-type mare to breed from at his Valachi Downs property when Pendleton’s career is over.

What path  her  racing career takes will depend on how she is treated by the handicapper.

Pendleton jumped from rating 75 grade to win her first open handicap  in listed company which is something Kennedy is wary of.

"Hopefully, she doesn’t get burned for that because we have got no other options."

Kennedy is expecting the horse to be even better with more time.

"She is going to get better yet. She is not mentally there yet but she has loads of ability."

The Kennedy-Furlong and Collett combination capped their day with a third winner thanks to a genius Collett ride.

The jockey took inside runs to win race 9 with Los Cabos, who is also raced by Hickman.

Collett’s treble took her season’s tally to 76 wins and  a 17-win lead in the national jockey’s premiership.

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