By Mike Love, Harness News Desk
The Group 2 Sapling Stakes was taken out by local trainers Brent & Tim White when Shards Matrix produced a sustained rails run to knock off race favorite A Little Silence at Ashburton yesterday.
It was co-trainer Tim White’s first Group success in his second season of training – with father and co-trainer Brent White having tasted group success previously with Cranbourne and One Apollo.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Tim White.
“I’m actually in Brisbane on a family holiday – I couldn’t have picked worse timing to not be there.”
Shards Matrix is a gelding by Sweet Lou out of Christian Cullen mare Lady Gaga and was purchased at the Christchurch yearling sales for $30,000. He was then sold to new and existing owners, some of which raced former stable star Cranbourne.
Shards Matrix had a few workouts before qualifying at Rangiora on April 19th.
“He’s always been a good mover. He’s quite a solid stocky fella.
“We gave him 10 days out after he qualified, and we got him back in just for this race.”
White says credit must go to Rakaia trainer Leo O’Reilly (who also trained and drove Maren Franco to victory in race 3) for his early education.
“I don’t think he was the easiest horse early on. He’s done a super job breaking him in and came back foolproof.”
Keeping it a family affair, O’Reilly’s niece and White stable employee, Sarah O’Reilly, also claimed her first group winning drive behind the gelding.
“It’s good to do it for Brent and Tim, and all the owners,” said O’Reilly.
Shards Matrix settled three back the markers on a hot early speed set by stablemate Commander Joe. Favorite and trailer A Little Silence peeled at the top of the straight, inviting O’Reilly to launch a run up the passing lane, eventually gaining the lead 50m short of the line, holding on to win by ½ a length.
“I just let him do his own thing. He travelled well.
“It was the first time we pulled the hood today – usually the plugs have stayed in – and he went to pull up on me. But then he got going again once I urged him on.”
As this part of the season all but comes to a close, White says Shards Matrix will be destined for the paddock.
“There’s not much for him now. So he will go out for a spell of some description.”
Brent & Tim White have now trained 20 winners with stake earnings of just over $270,000.
Earlier on the card, Ryal Bush trainer-driver Peter Hunter recorded his first group race success when Raklou cemented herself as one of the best two-year-old fillies in the country when she easily won the Helen Pope Fillies classic at Group 3 level. Hunter held the filly together patiently, before moving around the field to sit parked from the 1200m. Raklou hit the front at the top of the long Ashburton straight, holding off her rivals easily to win by 2 ¼ lengths, from Aardie Be Miki.
Raklou and Shards Matrix made it a double for Woodlands Stud sire Sweet Lou in both feature races at Ashburton. Sweet Lou sired six winners in total this week, including four of which were at Addington on Thursday night (Maria Allegonda, Fernetti, Watermelon Sugar and Lizzie Richter).