THURSDAY: December 15, 2022: A mare who cost only $8000 as a weanling gave put her stamp at Hawkesbury today on Kris Lees’ dominance of the Sky Racing Summer Provincial Series.
Ella Te Ama ($11), ridden by stable apprentice Dylan Gibbons, gave Lees his fourth consecutive victory in the $150,000 Final (1600m) when she blitzed her rivals.
Going into the summer feature with only seven starts and two wins to her name and stepping up sharply in class, she overcame a wide draw to power down the centre of the track in the straight and defeat a gallant local Momack ($11) by a widening three and a half lengths.
After then Hawkesbury trainer Bernie Kelly won the inaugural running of the Summer Provincial Final with Bobbing in 2018 at Kembla Grange, Lees has landed the next four with Occupy (2019 at Gosford), Itz Lily (early 2021 at Wyong), Darleb 12 months ago at Newcastle, and now Ella Te Ama.
Former Newcastle Jockey Club director Anthony Hall heads the syndicate which races the daughter of Scissor Kick and unraced Husson mare She Loves You (Ella Te Ama is Spanish for she loves you).
Hall, who watched the race on Sky at Wests Leagues Club in Newcastle whilst celebrating a friend’s 80th birthday, this afternoon related the story of how the mare came to their notice.
“Stephen Irwin and myself were business partners in a farm, and he also worked for John and Paul Messara at Arrowfield Stud, where Scissor Kick initially stood,” Hall said.
“He called me and said I’ve got a horse for you. No you haven’t was my reply.
“Anyhow I relented and we bought Ella Te Ama for $8000 online as a weanling at a dispersal sale, and brought in other friends to race her.
“Scissor Kick didn’t quite work out when standing at Arrowfield, and is now standing at stud in Tunisia at a moderate fee.
But of course he did sire the recent The Everest winner Giga Kick.”
Hall, who also raced the 2017 Group 1 Doomben Cup and 2016 Group 2 Villiers Stakes winner Sense Of Occasion (now an eventing horse) and former top sprinter Moss Rocket, said Ella Te Ama was a “bit weedy” when first put into work.
“We kept putting her out to enable her to strengthen, and she didn’t start racing until March this year,” he said.
“She won her maiden at Port Macquarie in April at only her second start and then a Class 1 at Gosford in May at her fifth start, both on heavy tracks.
“Her two runs back this time were good, and Kris thought she would run well today, but none of us expected her to win in the manner she did.
“Hopefully she can go on with it now and win at least a midweek race in town.”
Ella Te Ama’s first prize of $77,500 boosted her career earnings to just over $132,000 (including an $11,250 BOBS bonus).
Ironically, her previous start fourth to today’s third placegetter Burning Need ($10) in the fourth qualifying heat of the series at Kembla Grange on November 26 did not initially secure her a berth in the Final line-up of 15 horses (scheduled to comprise the three placegetters in each of the five heats).
However, stablemate Acquitted, who started favorite and ran third in that Kembla heat, came to the end of his preparation and was spelled.
When Acquitted and Hawkesbury-trained Dream Eclipse (runner-up in the opening heat at Wyong) both were absentees, Ella Te Ama and today’s dead-heat fourth placegetter Diva Bella (trained at Hawkesbury by Claire Lever and fourth in the closing heat at Newcastle on December 3) were elevated into the field.
. Hawkesbury trainer Blake Ryan was thrilled with runner-up Momack’s performance under his 59kg (5kg more than the winner) after he and fellow Hawkesbury representative, Brad Widdup’s Sonic Tycoon ($7), ran along in the lead, setting up the winner’s smart 1:35.08 for the 1600m.
“He is flying and picked up another $45,000, taking his earnings beyond $200,000,” Ryan said.
. Zac Lloyd landed the latest heat of the Rising Star series for apprentices when successful on Oryx ($4.20) in the St Johns Park Bowling Club Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m) for his master, trainer James Cummings.
But RacingNSW stewards later reminded him of his obligation to ensure he rides his mounts out fully to the end of races wherever possible.