Kiwi filly Pennyweka wins the ATC Australian Oaks

Almost two decades after his last visit to Randwick, New Zealand horseman James Wallace has pulled off a rare cross-Tasman double with Pennyweka adding the ATC Australian Oaks to her New Zealand Oaks victory.

Wallace was a frequent visitor to Australia during the early 2000s with his multiple Group 1 winner Cent Home but hadn’t been to Sydney since that horse contested the 2003 All Aged Stakes.

It was a happy return on Saturday with Pennyweka ($4.80 equal unibet fav) outstaying her rivals to take out the $1 million Oaks (2400m) by 1-3/4 lengths over So Dazzling ($20) with Premise ($17) three lengths away third.

Wallace said he originally planned to spell Pennyweka after she won the New Zealand Oaks in March but the filly did so well he had a change of heart.

“I was convinced that after the Oaks she’d be ready for it (a break) but she came out on the Monday, trotted up and the girl who rides her all the time said to me, ‘she feels better today than she did on Friday’,” Wallace said.

“She carried on that week and did nothing wrong so we thought, ‘oh well, we’ll roll the dice’ and here we are.”

Pennyweka is a family affair, the three-year-old raced by a syndicate managed by Wallace’s brother and sister-in-law.

Many of her 70 owners made the trip to Randwick to watch her win and Wallace said that was what racing was all about.

“There are 70 in it and 40 of them are here today having the time of their lives,” he said.

“A lot of them have only got one per cent, two per cent but they can walk into the pub on a Saturday night sand say ‘my horse won the Oaks’ which is great.”

Winning jockey Damian Lane said Pennyweka was well prepared and gave him a good feel throughout the race.

“I was the only horse travelling on the corner and we put them to the sword in the straight,” Lane said.

Pavitra started an equal favourite and appeared to be travelling well on the corner but didn’t handle the heavy conditions when she came off the bridle.

“She gave me a beautiful ride. She ran well in front but didn’t go in the ground,” jockey James Mcdonald said.

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