Trainer and part-owner Karyn McQuade compliments Underthemoonlight after her brave win at Te Rapa today.
There was a common denominator in both open sprints contested at Te Rapa and Trentham today, but in other respects the two races could not have been more contrasting.
The barest of noses separated Underthemoonlight and Deals In Heels as they hit the line wide apart in the Foster Maintain 1400, while less than an hour later at Trentham, New York Minute made a one-horse race of the Randwick Meats 1200.
Deals In Heels was a warm favourite to continue another big day for her record-setting trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, but Underthemoonlight had the final say as she mastered topweight of 60 kilograms to record her first win since taking the Gr. 2 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate on the same track last August.
There was nothing between the two mares and it took the judge’s call to confirm victory to Underthemoonlight, whose latest preparation was hindered by a couple of setbacks that meant missing a proposed Sydney autumn campaign.
The Karyn McQuade-trained six-year-old returned to racing with a fourth placing in very heavy conditions at Rotorua last month, but today she showed the benefit of that run as she dug deep for rider Cameron Lammas.
Underthemoonlight and Deals In Heels are likely to clash again in the Listed Tauranga Classic on June 23, a race that Underthemoonlight won last year before being freshened for the Foxbridge Plate.
The Baker/Forsman stable’s hand in that race will be added to by current stable star Tomelilla and New York Minute, who was so impressive at Trentham in her first start for the premiership leaders.
Almost a year to the day of her runaway win in the same race last year, the Iffraaj mare was again in commanding form for Lisa Allpress as she led from the start and distanced her rivals to score by 11 and a half lengths, a length greater than her 2017 margin.
That performance capped another superb day for Baker and Forsman, who have continued in unstoppable form since breaking their old record mark of 114 wins last month. Today’s tally of four wins – three at Te Rapa including a black-type quinella and another at Trentham – took them to 128 wins with seven weeks of the season remaining.