A win in the Ellerslie feature on Saturday has stamped the class of talented Matamata mare Viadana, writes Aidan Rodley.
Viadana came of age on Saturday.
The Lance Noble-trained Towkay five-year-old mare had long since shown the potential of a topliner but she was always an immature younger horse, both physically and mentally.
The patient approach Noble adopted with her was designed to have her ready to tackle feature assignments this season - in her fourth preparation - and that strategy hit its first big payday at Ellerslie on Saturday.
Tested in stakes company for just the second time in 15 starts, Viadana capitalised on a typically polished Mark Du Plessis ride in the Gr III $70,000 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m), accelerating from fourth in running to hit the front inside the last 300m and kick on for a comfortable one-length win.
"She was very tough as a young horse," Noble said afterwards.
"The break-in and early education was very tough but because we’ve given her time, she’s a different horse now. Once she matured and stopped having growing pains, she’s just been a lot easier to deal with and she’s great to work with now.
"She’s really matured this year. We’ve been patient and looked after her and the owners have been wonderfully patient and they’re just reaping the benefits now. That was terrific. A Gr III win - that’s what we all strive for."
Raced by the Easdon No 4 Racing Syndicate, managed by Noble’s wife Leigh, Viadana win was her sixth and easily most important, lifting her stakes earnings past $130,000.
"We knew she had ability. She was just immature as a young horse and we just had to nurse her through and not get too big too soon," Noble said.
"There’s 10 shares in her but it seems to keep growing every time she wins. You start looking at her form now and it’s pretty good. Every race she’s won has been a good race and form has stacked up all around her. But it’s just good to get that black-type win for her for later on."
Noble said Viadana would now go straight into the Gr II $100,000 Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie on Boxing Day before a likely tilt at the Gr I Thorndon Mile at Trentham on January 26.
"She’s really good fresh. She tries so hard and you can afford to give her a week off in the paddock. Most of her races have been spaced three or four weeks apart.
"She’s such a great, honest mare. She’s got tactical speed to put herself right there and then she can sprint again so it’s a huge asset to have."
Du Plessis was able to use that tactical speed to have Viadana tracking a solid pace set by Rochallen, with Undisclosed, who had pushed forward from a wide gate, sitting on his outside.
Undisclosed took the lead early in the straight but was collared by Viadana 300m out, with Shuka running home strongly from the pack to finish second, a head in front of Undisclosed. Alegrio was fourth and outsider Run To The Bank fifth.
"No weight on her back and a good draw, she does everything for you,’’ Du Plessis said.
‘‘She’s very push-button. The run was pretty soft today. She hit the front a bit soon, but just the way she jumps and runs, she was always going to be in that sort spot.
‘‘She got into a rhythm from the gates, travelled beautifully and kicked really well. I’m very confident she can win a Gr I."
In the next race, Noble doubled up for the day when Brave Centaur ran out a strong winner of the $25,000 Dunstan Feeds Championship Qualifier (1600m) in the hands of Opie Bosson.
Noble said he was unsure about stepping Brave Centaur up to the 2200m of the Dunstan Feeds Championship Final at Ellerslie on January 1, believing he was a better 1600m horse, but he would make that decision in time.
‘‘Opie rode him perfectly today. He’s got a big powerful stride and as long as he can use that by being in clear air, he can finish off like he did today,’’ Noble said.
Saturday’s win was O’Reilly five-year-old gelding Brave Centaur’s third win from 13 starts.
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