Princess Katie makes it a sunny Gray day
There was a strong element of family in the win of Princess Katie in Saturday's Pegasus Stakes.
Trained at Copper Belt Lodge by Kevin Gray, the five-year-old mare is raced by Gray's son, Stephen, and daughter-in-law, Bridget, who also bred the daughter of Bianconi.
In the saddle was Lisa Allpress who was apprenticed to Gray in her early riding days for five years. Gray regards her as a surrogate daughter.
"That's made all this more the special for me," Gray said.
"It's a lot about family and I am so happy for Stephen and Bridget because they lost Princess Katie's mother in a bushfire in Australia.
"So to have a daughter of hers come and win a race like this gives them a real future as a breeding prospect."
Handled expertly by Allpress, Princess Katie speared to the lead early in the 1000-metre dash and was never headed although it did look momentarily as though Final Touch was going to come from nowhere and beat her on the line.
The win was testament to the training capabilities of Gray. Princess Katie had not raced since winning at Waverley in June and was heading into the $50,000 feature on the back of just two trials last month.
"It was a good effort because she's had no racing. We did give her a couple of trials but it's not as good as racing.
"It's a lot like playing rugby, if you don't get on the field, you lose a bit of fitness.
"But she had done everything right that we asked her at home, so we knew she was ready to run a big race."
Gray will now shift his attention toward Wednesday's Group III $100,000 Stewards Stakes over the extra distance of 1200 metres.
"All things going well she will back up there."
Princess Katie had drawn barrier seven for the sprinting feature and will be ridden by Robbie Hannam who has replaced Allpress because of her commitment to ride the Michael Pitman-trained El Chico.
Final Touch will head to Wednesday's Canterbury Breeders Stakes.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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