Six-year-old mare Kiwi Ida (Squamosa) will start favourite in Wednesday’s Gr.3 Valachi Downs Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) on the back of an eye-catching performance when second to Wekaforce (NZ) (Showcasing) in the Listed Pegasus Stakes (1000m) last Saturday.
The John and Karen Parsons-trained mare is rated 18 points superior to her nearest rival in the fillies and mares feature and she has an outstanding record over 1400m, with eight wins and six placings from 18 starts at the distance.
The daughter of Squamosa won the Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes two seasons ago and finished third behind Ticket To Ride last year and crucially will have stable jockey Chris Johnson in the saddle on Wednesday.
“I was very pleased with her run the other day,” Karen Parsons said.
“She has to be a good chance. Wekaforce carried a lot less weight the other day, but in racing, anything can happen.
“Chris knows how to ride her.”
56-year-old jockey Johnson is within three wins of equalling David Walsh’s record for the most wins in New Zealand at 2451 and Parsons heaped praise on the hoop, who is like a member of the family.
“His skill on a horse is second to none,” Parsons said.
“John has always said if Chris Johnson retires, we’re retiring.
“No one has got the skill that he’s got. If you’ve got a horse that is a bit funny at the barriers or whatever it may be, he sorts it out.
“Our place wouldn’t function without him.
“He’s part of the team. One of my friends calls him our son.”
Parsons, who bought Kiwi Ida for just $4,000 as a weanling in Melbourne, said the multiple Group Two winner and Group One placed mare differed from other elite mares the husband and wife duo have trained.
“She is the nicest horse that you would ever get to train,” she said.
“Quite often those top mares have a bit of shit in them and that is what makes them good. But she is just a model. She is a lovely horse.
“I bought her because I liked her sire Squamosa and how he is bred. I bought her as much on pedigree, but the breeders did say the family generally didn’t go beyond 1400m.”
$2.30 favourite Kiwi Ida will be joined in the Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes by stablemate Quintuple Twins (Sebring) ($23), who will be ridden by Matt Cameron.
“We do rate Quintuple Twins, but she had a few problems and we think we are on top of them now. She is not a bad mare on her day,” Parsons said.
“When we have Matt Cameron on, we have a good record and she can measure up to this class.”
Last-start winner Johnny Jones (NZ) (Pins) will represent the stable in the Gr.3 Lindauer Stewards Stakes Handicap (1200m) where Parsons said getting the eight-year-old to settle was the key to his chances.
“If he runs like he did last time, he is right in it. He is a bit inclined to over-race and he has had a wind operation, so he is not as good when he is over-racing. As long as he can settle, he will be very hard to beat,” she said.
The Balcairn horsewoman also gave the tick of approval to Camino Rocoso (NZ) (Shocking) ($6) and Sister Monica (NZ) (Reliable Man) ($12), who will contest the Halls Refrigerated Transport Premier (2000m), a competitive open handicap.
“Camino Rocoso should go pretty well and Sister Monica won’t be easy to roll either. We’re pleased with both of them,” Parsons said.