First Stakes Win for Burgundy Mare Sassy Merlot

Media Release - Saturday April 20

An autumn trip to Canterbury has turned out to be career-defining for Matamata mare Sassy Merlot, who added a valuable black-type win to her record in Saturday’s Listed Daphne Bannan Memorial Great Easter Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton.

A placegetter in the Gr.2 Wellington Guineas (1400m), Gr.3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) and Gr.3 Rotorua Stakes (1400m) as a three-year-old, Sassy Merlot had struggled to find her best form through her four and five-year-old seasons.

Sassy Merlot powers home to score a valuable victory in Saturday’s Listed Daphne Bannan Memorial Great Easter Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton.  Photo: Ajay Berry (RIS)

An encouraging third at Hastings on February 28 led to co-trainer Pam Gerard sending her down south, where she finished a close fifth in a 1400m open handicap at Riccarton before winning in Rating 75 grade at Ashburton on April 4.

But on Saturday the southern venture paid off in the best way possible with a Listed victory and the lion’s share of the $80,000 stake.


“She’s been a tough horse all the way through,” Gerard said. “It’s just a little bit harder up north, especially when you get tracks that aren’t quite to suit. I’m really pleased now that we talked the owners into coming down.

“She’s come down here and had one-on-one attention over the last few weeks. Richie (Fallon) has just done the most amazing job and got her back into form.

“The Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.3, 1600m) was originally the target, but she just didn’t travel down all that well and we weren’t sure about the distance. She had a nice run over 1400m instead, then went to Ashburton and won there and boosted her confidence.

“When I saw her after I got off the plane this morning, I thought she’d just gone to another level.”

But even the most resurgent racehorses still need things to go to plan once the gates open, and rider Lisa Allpress had some nervous moments in the early part of Saturday’s race. A slow start made Sassy Merlot’s customary front-running tactics impossible, and she instead took up a position in midfield.

Allpress trucked up in Our Echo’s slipstream coming up to the home turn, then switched to the outside and asked Sassy Merlot to quicken. The response was immediate and Sassy Merlot swept to the lead with more than 300m remaining, then kept finding enough down the long Riccarton straight to turn back the late challenges of Third Decree and Millefiori and win by a length.

“That was a strong performance,” Allpress said. “My instructions went out the window a few seconds before we jumped. She was just standing there like a statue, and I knew she wasn’t going to jump well. There wasn’t much I could do about it at that stage.

“I was supposed to ride her forward, but I had no choice but to go back and get some cover, then try to find a nice back to follow into the race. It all worked out nicely in the end and she kicked really well.

“Her last-start win was phenomenal, and I knew she had that residual fitness on her side as well. When I asked her in the straight, she just shot out from underneath me. It was a good feeling.”

Sassy Merlot was bred by Advantageous Ventures Ltd, who offered her in Book 3 of Karaka 2020. The daughter of Burgundy was bought for $24,000 by Paul Moroney Bloodstock and Ballymore Stables, and her 28-start career has now produced five wins, seven placings and $181,145. – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk.



Race Result - Daphne Bannan Memorial Great Easter Stakes LR 1400m

Riccarton Park Track: Soft(5) Time: 1:22.63
Sassy Merlot
- 5m Burgundy (NZ) x Saveadance (NZ) (Savabeel (AUS))
Tnr: M Moroney & P Gerard Rdr: L J Allpress 53
MM Gold Coast National Broodmare Sale $0
Seller: Newgate Consignment, Aberdeen, NSW (As Agent for Ballymore Stables)
Buyer: Withdrawn
NZB Karaka Book 3 $24,000
Seller: Advantageous Ventures
Buyer: Paul Moroney Bloodstock / Ballymore Stables NZ
Third Decree
- 4m War Decree (USA) x Elusive Chik (NZ) (Elusive City (USA))
Tnr: M & M Pitman Rdr: Ms K Williams 57
- 5m Iffraaj (GB) x Miss Bluebell (NZ) (Savabeel (AUS))
Tnr: Mark Walker & Sam Bergerson Rdr: N S Parmar 56
NZB Karaka Book 2 $65,000
Seller: Archer Park
Buyer: Mr DC Ellis
- 6m Niagara (AUS) x Elusive Tracy (NZ) (Elusive City (USA))
Tnr: L M Robinson Rdr: J J Fawcett 56
The Radiant One
- 5m Darci Brahma (NZ) x The Diamond One (AUS) (Tale Of The Cat (USA))
Tnr: Dennis Bros Rdr: A Comignaghi 55
Ears Back
- 5m Jakkalberry (IRE) x Makesmewonder (AUS) (Grass Wonder (USA))
Tnr: J C Blackadder Rdr: L T Hemi 55
The Good Shepherd
- 6g Power (GB) x Likeapins (NZ) (Pins (AUS))
Tnr: S D Blair-edie Rdr: G A Jogoo 53.5
Lord Darci
- 6g Darci Brahma (NZ) x Madam Victoria (NZ) (High Chaparral (IRE))
Tnr: B & R Wilson Rdr: T R Moseley 56
- 6m Darci Brahma (NZ) x Sinead (NZ) (Shinko King (IRE))
Tnr: R C Dennis Rdr: S L Wynne 53
- 8g Redwood (GB) x Instant Candy (NZ) (Canny Lad (AUS))
Tnr: L M Robinson Rdr: A C Goindasamy 53.5
- 5m Burgundy (NZ) x Geordie Girl (NZ) (Towkay (AUS))
Tnr: L G Dobbs Rdr: U A Holmquist 58
Our Echo
- 7g Echoes Of Heaven (AUS) x Sakura Cluden (NZ) (Yamanin Vital (NZ))
Tnr: D B Frye Rdr: L Sutherland 59
- 8g Zacinto (GB) x Anya (NZ) (Volksraad (GB))
Tnr: Ainsley Mcleod Rdr: K Chowdhoory 54
The Hottie
- 6m Swiss Ace (AUS) x The Countessa (NZ) (O'reilly (NZ))
Tnr: Robbie Patterson Rdr: C R Barnes 55
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