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Skysoblue continues rapid rise with open class debut win

March 24, 2013

Skysoblue continued her rapid rise through the grades with another of her trademark all-the-way performances in theMCLStuccorite Bay of Plenty Cup at Tauranga today.

From a Rating 65 win at Ellerslie in the second week of January to today’s open class debut, the five-year-old has put together formline of five wins and a third from six starts.

While that’s impressive, co-trainer Graeme Sanders warns that the best is yet to come from the late developing member of the ubiquitous racing string wearing the blue and white colours of The Oaks Stud.

“She’s only just grown into her joints, she’s just taken that time to develop,” Sanders said. “We’ve always had faith in her and now that she knows what she’s doing they get to her but they can’t get past her.

“We might only give her one more start – there’s a race for her at Te Aroha in a couple of weeks that will suit – and then she go out for a spell. I’m picking she’ll continue to improve next year, so that’s something to look forward to.”

Apart from Skysoblue’s own streak of form after just one previous win from 15 starts, the other remarkable statistic is that Taranaki apprentice Dylan Turner has an unbeaten record from four recent rides on the mare.

He was on board when she hit winning form at Ellerslie in January, also at Te Rapa and Matamata in February and today’s win extended the sequence. It would probably be five from five but for Turner being absent in Hong Kong for two weeks when Skysoblue last raced, on the final day of the Auckland Cup carnival. His substitute on that occasion was his older bother Philip.  

The younger Turner was selected as the first New Zealand apprentice to spend time experiencing the Hong Kong racing environment. His two-week stint did not include race riding, but he rode trackwork for trainers Caspar Fownes and Ricky Yiu as well as riding in trials.

“It was brilliant experience, everyone was great,” he said. “Zac Purton and Richard Fourie took me under their wing and helped me understand it from a jockey’s perspective.”

Turner was originally engaged for Skysoblue to make use of his apprentice claim, but with a handicap weight of just 53 kilograms today the lanky 19-year-old was unable to make use of the allowances clause in the Bay of Plenty Cup.

“I might have liked the food a little too much in Hong Kong and I put on a bit of weight,” he explained. “I appreciated still being able to take the ride even though I ended up having to ride her a half-kilogram over.”

As has become her habit, Skysoblue was quickly in control of today’s 2100-metre contest, striding along keenly in front and keeping the pressure on. Shuka loomed with a likely threat after receiving run in transit, but was unable to pull the leader in and had to settle for a half-length second.  

“She’s tough and gives you a great feeling,” said Turner. “She rolls along and then kicks enough to put them under pressure, then if anything comes at her she just pins her ears back and refuses to let them past.”

The only downside was the $200 fine that Turner copped after being found guilty of making a ‘celebratory gesture’ before the winning post. 

Story and photo: The Informant