Aspen Lass (Alysha Collett) scores a come-from-behind win in the Metropolitan.
The Listed Metropolitan Trophy is often considered little more than a lead-up to the Gr. 3 New Zealand Cup seven days later, but not for Aspen Lass.
The $75,000 Listed event at Riccarton this afternoon was the number-one target for the Alamosa mare, and she accomplished that mission with an impressive last-to-first performance.
“That was great, and she can go out to the paddock for a week now,” said Ryan Thistoll, the stable representative for trainer Terri Rae. “The small field today really suited her, she was able to get to the outside and come from the back.
“She probably will have felt the firm track a little bit today, so she can go out for a week on the grass and then come back into work after that.”
Aspen Lass cost just $5000 as a yearling and $25,000 at the Ready to Run Sale, but she has now won five races and more than $112,000 in prize-money for first-time owners Graeme and Leah Causer.
“This is our first horse,” Graeme Causer said. “She didn’t cost a lot. It just goes to show that you can have some big thrills with the cheaper horses.
“I’m very grateful to Terri Rae and Ryan Thistoll for looking after her so well. She’s had a few accidents and things like that along the way. She hasn’t been easy, but they’ve been very patient. Ryan loves this horse as much as we do.”
Aspen Lass had been placed in her last two starts leading into this, and on both occasions she was blocked in the straight and by the time she got clear running it was too late. The most recent of those was a second in the Listed Spring Classic behind Grazia, who was a rival again today.
Today was a different story as rider Alysha Collett kept her out of trouble at the back of the small field. Unfazed by the slow pace, Collett bided her time and brought Aspen Lass to the outside at the top of the straight. She stormed home over the top of her rivals, getting up to beat Imperium by a length and three-quarters. Grazia was third.
“The way the race was run really suited her,” Collett said. “The way she settled in the running, I knew she’d be able to finish it off really strongly.”
This was Collett’s first ride on Aspen Lass, but she has formed a highly successful partnership with Rae. This was her 16th win from 77 rides on Rae-trained runners, with the highest-profile being the six-race winner and stakes performer Bloodstream.
This was the second year in a row that Imperium has placed in the Metropolitan Trophy. A son of the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup winner Ethereal, Imperium also went on to place in the New Zealand Cup last year.
Third-placed Grazia is a full-sister to Shillelagh, who won the Gr. 1 Kennedy Mile at Flemington last Saturday.
Both Imperium and Grazia are trained by Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, who finished first, second and fourth in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas with Embellish, Age Of Fire and Te Akau Shark.