"Never put a value on winning."
That was the advice Tirau owner Gary Harding handed out after his rising star filly Bounding confirmed her ranking as top of the two-year-old class in winning Saturday's Listed $50,000 Murdoch Newell Stakes (1100m) at Pukekohe.
Harding paid A$425,000 for the Lonhro filly after he and Matamata trainer Ken Kelso inspected her at this year's Australian Easter Yearling Sales in Sydney, rating her as the best of her gender in the sale.
Harding has enjoyed his share of success in all three codes but Bounding has the potential to become the most valuable of any of his racing stock.
Kelso and his wife and co-trainer Bev have Bounding entered for the world's richest two-year-old race, the A$3.5 million Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on April 6.
But as Kelso said afterwards, that's the pipedream.
There's plenty of water to go under the bridge before Bounding gets to seal a trip across the Tasman.
However, the positives signs are all there.
She was an emphatic trial winner before defeating the highly-regarded Catalonia on debut at Ellerslie and she again displayed the same professionalism as she held off the previously-unbeaten Ruud Awakening by a long neck for rider Vinnie Colgan.
"It was a very good effort," Kelso said.
"She's held them out and the other filly is obviously a very good filly. She'll have a spell now and then come back for the Matamata Breeders' Stakes. She's also in the Golden Slipper and that's a bit of a dream but when you buy a filly at the Sydney Easter Sale, you have to look at options like that."
Kelso said Bounding had got "a bit hot" before racing on Saturday, suggesting the filly would now benefit from a break from training.
"She's a stakes-winner now and that's a huge result for the breeding side of it," he said.
Colgan positioned Bounding in second place and always looked in control even when second favourite Ruud Awakening loomed as a threat inside the last 200m.
“I got a beautiful run and at the 400 [metres] I still had a good hold of her. She still doesn’t really know what it’s all about and she’s very exciting,” Colgan said.
Ruud Awakening lost no caste in finishing second after losing ground at the start.
Stipendiary steward John Oatham said the Stephen Marsh-trained filly was fractious in the gates but ruled out any suggestion that a starters' assistance had impeded her getaway.
Marsh said Bernardini filly Ruud Awakening would now have a brief letup before contesting the two-year-old race at Ellerslie on January 12 as a leadup to the $1 million Karaka Million at the same track a fortnight later.
"We're just happy we don't have to run into the other filly [Bounding] in the Karaka Million," Marsh said.
The Karaka Million is open to two-year-olds bought at the Karaka yearling sales series and as Bounding was bought in Sydney she is ineligible.
Zaragoza was game in third, albeit 7 1/2 lengths behind Ruud Awakening. There was 2 1/2 lengths back to fourth-placed Eastern Dragon.
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