By Isaac Murphy
New Zealand filly Terra Sancta announced herself as a Queensland Oaks threat after an impressive win in her first run on Australian soil on Monday at Ipswich Turf Club’s Labour Day Meet.
Leading New Zealand trainer Tony Pike has his sights firmly set on a successful Australian winter and tactically selected the Class 1 handicap over 1666m as the perfect launching pad for the three-year-old filly.
Stable representative Chris McNabb outlined why Pike chose this path to the Oaks.
“Tony is no stranger to placing horses for Group Ones, Provocative won this race in 2016 and went on to claim the Oaks, “he said.
Terra Sancta’s previous four race starts were on New Zealand soil, with her most recent outing an 8th placing in the New Zealand Oaks.
“The run in the New Zealand Oaks was a lot better than it looked on paper and the owner was pretty keen to come over and give the Queensland (Oaks) a crack,” McNabb said.
McNabb said the booking of the inform Jim Byrne was a coup for the progressive filly.
"We’ll definitely be relying on a bit of Jim’s feedback,” he said.
Fresh off his Saturday win in the Hollindale Stakes on Doomben Cup bound Oregon’s Day, Byrne said he was wrapped to pick up another quality ride for the winter carnival.
“Obviously this time of year we chase some of Tony’s quality horses coming over for the winter, I was fortunate to get the ride today and can hopefully build the association,” he said.
Proceedings started with an emotional winner for Kelso Wood and training partner Patricia Gesler as Wood bowed out of training with a last start winner with stayer Delago Edition.
Gesler confirmed post-race this was their last runner together,
“I’m really emotional to have Kelso’s last runner with me today, it means a lot to go out this way,” she said.
Veteran hoop Michael Cahill claimed a double piloting the Kelly Doughty trained Husson’s Pride in Race 3 and a barnstorming win on Marcus Wilson trained Wudang Blade, who was too classy after dropping in grade from the listed Mick Dittman Stakes.
Other winners on the day were consistent stayer Kuttamura Al for Toowoomba trainer Lindsay Hatch and stable apprentice Baylee Nothdurft and an eye catching win from Brian and Daniel Guy-trained Lady Eighty Eight, with Dan Griffin flying down the centre of the track for a dominant victory.