7 November 2022
Quality Karaka graduate Atishu (NZ) (Savabeel) showed her class on Champions Day at Flemington on Saturday, claiming the biggest win of her career so far in the A$300,000 Group Two Matriarch Stakes (2000m).
Bought for $260,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2019 by syndicators Go Racing, Atishu has now earned A$598,370 from her 26-start career. She has won seven races and placed on another seven occasions.
Atishu (NZ) claiming 1st place in the A$300,000 Group Two Matriarch Stakes (2000m).
A dual Listed winner in New Zealand as an autumn three-year-old, Atishu won the Group Three Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) in Sydney last spring but has subsequently been plagued by bad luck and costly slow starts.
After a luckless fifth in last weekend’s Group One Empire Rose Stakes (1600m), trainer Chris Waller decided to back her up into the final day of the carnival and step her up in distance, and that decision was richly rewarded.
Confidently ridden by champion jockey James McDonald, Atishu raced in midfield before pouncing in the straight. She stretched out stylishly through the final 150 metres, opening up a comfortable winning margin of two lengths over Steinem (Frankel).
“The tempo was on, and if a high-class mare like this couldn’t win today, she’s in a world of pain,” McDonald said. “She travelled beautifully into the race. She felt like the winner a long way from home, and she would have looked like it too.
“I just got her within striking distance approaching the corner, and she did the rest.
“She’d been building towards that. She put the writing on the wall in her last start. By Savabeel, 2000 metres – what more could you ask for?”
Atishu was already proven at the distance, having won the Listed Warstep Stakes at Riccarton as a three-year-old to clinch the title of New Zealand Bloodstock South Island Filly of the Year for the 2020-21 season.
“I guess that’s her peak performance since she’s been here,” said Waller, who has trained Atishu since the winter of 2021.
“She’s always been a bit unlucky and threatened to win a decent one, and she’s got a good prize today.
“Everything’s sort of gone wrong with her over the last 18 months, and even last Saturday she didn’t have a lot of luck in the Group One. This is always a great race as a back-up plan, and she has won over 2000 metres in New Zealand before. We finally got her up to the trip today, and she certainly appreciated it.
“There’s so many good options now, so we’ll get through today, enjoy today and find a nice race in the autumn – whether it be Victoria or New South Wales.”
Saturday’s Matriarch had some additional Karaka flavour through the strong-finishing third placegetter Tokorangi (NZ) (Redwood). Bought for just $30,000 from Book 2 of Karaka 2019, the talented mare has had 17 starts for three wins, four placings and A$194,574.