Karaka Million Contender for Stratum
Our leading sire Stratum already has a Golden Slipper winner on his resume in Crystal Lily and will be hoping for a Karaka Million winner this weekend when Strata Lady takes her place in New Zealand’s richest race.
Cruising in transit and then flying home for victory.
That’s what owners Alan and Christine Abel will be hoping for with exciting Matamata filly Strata Lady in Sunday’s $1 million Karaka Million — on two counts.
The Tauranga couple are making a fleeting trip back to New Zealand to watch Strata Lady race, flying back from Rarotonga where the cruise ship they are holidaying on is docked for the weekend.
“Their boat is stopping off at Rarotonga so they are leaving the trip for a couple of days so they can fly back home and watch their horse race,” Matamata trainer Lance O’Sullivan said.
“We discussed this about four weeks ago when we thought they might have a runner. I said to them ‘you’ve got a runner in the Karaka Million, it would be great to be there to see her race’.”
The Stratum filly was successful on debut at Awapuni last month, defeating subsequent Ellerslie winner and Karaka Million rival Bella Court.
O’Sullivan and his training partner Andrew Scott have resisted any temptation to start Strata Lady again in the lead-up to the Karaka Million, preferring to ensure she arrives at Ellerslie fresh and healthy to be partnered by champion rider James McDonald.
“We’ve only had one run. We’ve sacrificed experience for soundness,” O’Sullivan said.
“We just didn’t want to throw everything at her and come out of the Karaka Million and then have no horse. We’d like to have her in the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes after this and then if she’s good enough we’ll consider the Group One races.
“She’s going into the race really happy. We’re working on the theory that by keeping her happy, we’ll get her to the race feeling good about her herself. It might not come off but that’s the approach we are taking.”
O’Sullivan’s Wexford Stables paid $40,000 for Strata Lady from the Cambridges Stud draft at Karaka last year.
“She was a delicate filly but very athletic and with good scope and length. We liked that she had a good running Australian pedigree,” said O’Sullivan of Strata Lady, who is from Estermate, a grand-daughter of Group I Blue Diamond Stakes winner Midnight Fever.