The final Group I feature of the racing season in New Zealand went the way of Pondarosa Miss (4m High Chaparral x Bak Da Princess, by Danske) providing the happiest of endings for a trio that have endured their fair share of heartache along the way.
The Peter Hollinshead-trained Pondarosa Miss triumphed in a driving finish for rider Daniel Hain to take the major honours in the Manco Easter Handicap at Ellerslie.
The 2014-15 season had started horrifically for the combination when Pondarosa Miss suffered life-threatening injuries in a fall at Hastings that also side-lined Hain for a lengthy period.
The 29-year-old had ridden the mare in all three of her previous wins up to that point, but had to wait until Saturday to be reunited with the daughter of High Chaparral.
“She’s an amazing horse and we’ve had a few ups and downs together,” Hain said. “She handles all conditions, on top of the ground and through the wet.
“To win a Group One is every jockey’s dream, it’s a big moment for me to finally get one.”
Hollinshead paid tribute to Pondarosa Miss’ toughness during a campaign that also netted a third placing in the Group I Auckland Cup.
“It’s the worst preparation I’ve ever given a horse – I had to run her in the Avondale Cup to get her ready for the two miles and then she’s come back to a mile,” he said.
“I’m very pleased for Daniel as well. He’s a very balanced rider and that’s what she needs.”
Pondarosa Miss is a full sister to the smart Gai Waterhouse trained galloper Ecuador and is the bets of three winners from Bak Da Princess, a half-sister by the Danehill stallion Danske to Group II winner Bak Da Chief.
With five wins and five placings from 16 starts, Pondarosa Miss is the 14th Group I winner worldwide for High Chaparral, who died prematurely at the end of last year at age 15.
He was also represented by a stakes-winner at Randwick with classy colt Hi World (3c High Chaparral x Beauty World, by Danehill Dancer) taking out the Group III ATC Frank Packer Plate.