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Turned out in terrific order and graceful in her preliminary, Cork (3 f Complacent – Little Bit Irish, by O’Reilly) scored a courageous victory in the $22,500 Rating 65 2100 metres on Saturday at Tauranga.

Courageous because it seems that courage is required above all else when running on testing ground, and although co-trainer Pam Gerard had some reservations there was also enough on the bright side to line-up.

Able to secure an economical trip three back on the inner, from barrier one, Cork came from eighth at the 600m and gallantly extended near the rail to claim victory. In a driving finish with Touch the Clouds (Iffraaj), Cork gained a half-length advantage near home and pricked her ears in recognition of a fine effort.

There was certainly no doubts in the minds of punters, who made her equal favourite in a field of 14, after she bolted home by nine lengths in the Maiden 1600 metres on 14 May, and finished big for second in the Rating 65 1600 metres on 9 June – both a Matamata. But, Gerard was rightly cautious.

“She’d shown ability to handle rain-affected ground with two big efforts for first and second at her last two starts, but she’s not an overly robust three-year-old filly and stepping up in distance (2100m) for the first time I didn’t want to get to the bottom of her so early in her career,” she said.

“She’s only had five starts, and two wins now, so I’m glad we elected to run. There’s not much of her, but she’s got a will to win. Her work on Tuesday at Matamata, on a very heavy track, she just skipped through it and (jockey) Sam Weatherley said to definitely start her in those conditions.

“I just hoped we’d got it right, but was also a touch reserved about starting. I thought if we go and we try we’ll know exactly where we stand with her. She certainly hadn’t disappointed us in any of her four previous starts and she continues to put her hand up.

“It was always going to be a slog today and I said to Sam (Weatherley) not to knock her around if she’s not handling it.

“She’s a filly that’s only going to improve, quite an exciting prospect, and I had been very happy with how she looked and how she’d worked in preparation.”

In the race sponsored by Bulk Lines, and carrying the Fletcher tartan, Cork returned $4.60 & $1.90 on the NZ TAB tote.

Selected by Paul Moroney and Ballymore Stables NZ at the Karaka 2019 Book 2 Sale, a $30,000 buy from the Blandford Lodge draft of breeders Graham & Helen-Gaye Bax, Cork is owned by Dame Sian Elias, Natalie Walker, Ned Fletcher & Hugh Fletcher, whose colours were recently donned by Sarten Memorial (Gr. 2, 1400m) winner and dual Group One placed stable-mate Harlech (Darci Brahma), now plying his trade with Mike Moroney in the Ballymore Stable at Flemington.

From the first crop of Spring Champion Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m) winner Complacent (Authorized), bred on the same Sadler’s Wells/Quest for Fame cross as proven sire Tavistock (Montjeu), and standing at Mapperley Stud.

Cork is a half-sister to talented dual winner Carlingford Bay (Atlante), from a family well known to the Moroney brothers through the deeds of Group One winner Mission Critical (Fantastic Light) and Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) placed Bocce (Foxwedge).

“The Fletcher family are very good supporters of Ballymore, and on course to see their filly win,” Gerard said. “Harlech has been a recent flag bearer. It’s good for this filly to win again for them and they’ve got a lovely two-year-old Vadamos colt, Chancellor, and a Time Test colt from the Karaka sales this year.”

Cork was strapped by Devi Singh.
[26 Jun 21]


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