A Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) tilt remains a possibility for Harlech. Photo: Trish Dunell
Class filly Travelling Light displayed a brilliant turn of foot to down her male rivals as she left no excuses for the beaten brigade in the Gr.1 Woodridge Homes Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham.
The El Roca three-year-old had gone close to Group One glory when finishing third in the New Zealand One Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November after being thrust into the unfamiliar role of pacemaker that day.
Trainer Ben Foote and co-owner Col MacRury felt their charge was disadvantaged that day by not being able to show her dazzling acceleration so a plan was hatched to trail in behind in Saturday’s contest.
Rider Sam Collett, who had to make the difficult decision to give up the mount of race rival Riodini, followed the blueprint to perfection as she sat back on the fence on a muddling speed before tracking up behind race favourite Harlech approaching the home bend.
Harlech took over with 300m to run and looked to be travelling comfortably however Collett was biding her time on her mount who was idling along behind Harlech and ready to pounce. Collett pushed the go button and the response was immediate as Travelling Light dashed to the front before easing to a comfortable one length victory over a game Harlech with Riodini battling resolutely out wide for third.
The victory was the first for Foote at Group One level and the former top jumps jockey was trying to take it all in as he was swamped by well-wishers in the Trentham birdcage.
“It was a great ride by Sam as it was what we had talked about doing,” Foote said.
“When she ended up there (back on the fence) I was pretty happy.
“I was confident she could run him (Harlech) down but I was surprised at how slow they had gone early on.
“I thought she ran it out strong (1600m), so we’ll go back and talk it out as we have a few different options with her now.”
It was the second Group One prize for Collett who took out the 2019 edition of the Auckland Cup (3200m) on Glory Days and she was glowing in her praise for Travelling Light who she has ridden in four of her five career victories.
“It couldn’t have gone any better than if I had asked,” she said.
“I really wanted to be the one doing the chasing and it’s full credit to Ben as she looks absolutely amazing and she is something special.
“When I got out, she gave me about four strides before she got herself organised but then she locks in on where she’s off to and she does the rest herself.
“She’s just got amazing tenacity and is a riders dream. She never overtaxes herself and she feels as though she has got an endless gas tank.”
Bred by MacRury and his father Ian who shares in the ownership of the filly with his son, Travelling Light is the first Group One winner for her sire El Roca who stands at Westbury Stud. El Roca is well represented at the upcoming National Yearling Sale at Karaka where a total of twenty-four individuals will go under the hammer during the six days of selling including five during the Book 1 session that starts on Sunday January 26.
Race Video: Travelling Light gets her maiden Group One victory at Trentham
The filly does it! Travelling Light ($3.00), at the urging of Sam Collett, pounces on Harlech to take out Group 1 honours in the Woodridge Homes Levin Classic for Cambridge trainer Ben Foote pic.twitter.com/tmZVq2YPEI— TAB Racing (@TAB_Racing) January 11, 2020