5 Win Trans Tasman Saturday - 4 Stakes' Wins - Skew Wiff Grp 1 Wonderful

Date: 10 Sep 2023

5 Win Trans Tasman Saturday - 4 Stakes' Wins - Skew Wiff Grp 1 Wonderful


Getting her time in the sun over a star-studded field, Skew Wiff (4 m Savabeel – Starvoia, by Starcraft) won the $400,000 Westbury Stud Tarzino Trophy (Gr. 1, 1400m) on Saturday at Hastings.


Having ended her previous campaign finishing runner-up in both the Levin Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m), won by stable-mate Romancing The Moon (El Roca), and NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m), Skew Wiff resumed with a terrific effort for second in the Foxbridge Plate (Gr. 2, 1200m) on 26 August at Te Rapa, and given her great natural talent she rated top three chance in a smart field.

Widely considered as the strongest field assembled for a Tarzino in recent years, which included nine Group One winners, four of whom won Group One races last year in Australia, Skew Wiff had to be at her very best and together with jockey Opie Bosson they combined for a first-class victory.

Now accomplished at dispatching the gates, after proving difficult early on, Skew Wiff began well to be in the van (fourth/fifth), received a beautiful out two off the rail turning for home, cruised up 150m and found a length advantage before withstanding late challengers.

“She was in the zone today and her mind was on the job – the brain was good,” Bosson said. 

“We ended up getting into a beautiful spot and it was just a matter of sitting and waiting. She got there too soon last start. 

“I could hear them coming, but to her credit she heard them too and put her ears back and found the line.

“I’m glad I was the one to ride the first Group One win for Sam (Bergerson). He and his family have been great to me over the years and he’s a young man on the way up.”

It was a gutsy effort by a lightly raced mare that has no shortage of ability, aided by a cool riding jockey who gained his 91st Group One win. 



Te Akau previously won the race consecutively in 2018 and 2019 with dual Horse of the Year Melody Belle (Commands), who eclipsed the national record with 14 Group One wins, while Waikato Stud had been represented by Savabeel (Zabeel) son Kawi winning twice, also I Do (No Excuse Needed), and dam sire Starcraft (Soviet Star) won it too. 

On Soft5 footing, Skew Wiff ran 1400 metres in 1:23.1 and paid $10.40 & $2.80 on the NZ TAB tote. 

“It’s incredible to train these fantastic horses that Dave, Karyn, and Mark, buy and horses like Skew Wiff that Waikato Stud has given us to train and I’m so grateful to be here,” said co-trainer Sam Bergerson, who earlier on the programme won his first stakes win as a trainer with Tokyo Tycoon (Satono Aladdin).

“They’ve taken a chance on me and I just want to repay them and work hard. Days like today are unbelievable and I have to thank everyone at home, the staff at the coalface and they’re putting in the hours.

“Opie got her (Skew Wiff) into a lovely spot and the last thing we said to him was to hold her up for as long as possible. She’s got a short, sharp, sprint.

“She’s not very big, but such a tough little mare, and thanks very much to Waikato Stud for sending her to us and allowing us to trainer her. They are great supporters and it’s great to get a Group One win for Mark and Garry (Chittick) and their team.”

“It’s great to see so many people here today supporting racing, great to have Entain coming on board and improving stakes money is a real help to the industry and thank you to the course manager (Richard Fenwick) for preparing a really good track,” added co-trainer Mark Walker.

“On behalf of Sam and me, I’d like to thank the sponsors, Westbury Stud, and their entire team. Gerry Harvey is just incredible what he does for our New Zealand industry and Russell Warwick who manages everything for him.

“Waikato Stud is incredible breeders that put so much thought into breeding their horses, and I’d like to thank Tayla (Melvin) who strapped the mare and has a real affinity with her.”



“It’s so exciting, after a record-breaking year, to start the season like this and Mark and Sam having a strike rate of 2.7 is just incredible,” said Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM.

“It tells me that they’re putting the right horses in the right races and they are really performing. It’s a big team effort by all of the staff, both at the farm and the stables.

“To train a Group One winner for the Chittick family at Waikato Stud is a huge thrill. We’ve had so much success with the progeny of their Champion Sire Savabeel and this mare is another of his very best.

“Opie rode her brilliantly and the mare had what it takes to beat a top-class field.”

Representing Waikato Stud, racing manager Kris Shailer said: “It’s a privilege to be here representing Waikato Stud and witnessing a Group One win by Skew Wiff. 

“She spelled at home on the farm and we did the pre-training before she went back. 

“She’s just a tough Savabeel mare now, obviously strengthened up in her break and she’s got her Group One win today which is the main aim for all those fillies and mares that race in the Waikato Stud colours and I’m sure the whole team at home will be absolutely over the moon.

“She’s matured with time and racing experience and Mark and Sam have done a great job, as has all the staff at Te Akau.

“She was Group One placed twice as a three-year-old and now she’s proven she can beat them at the top level.”

At home on Waikato Stud, entertaining stud clients and celebrating the win, Mark Chittick was taken with the win on so many different levels.

“Te Akau deserves so much praise,” he said. “Jamie (Richards), into Mark (Walker) and now with the addition of Sam (Bergerson).

“It’s sentimental being involved in the Sam’s first Group One winner. He’s a bit younger than me, but we’re from the same village in Longburn, Palmerston North.

“I love Sam’s passion and he’s such a contributor to the community, being so involved in the Matamata Rugby Club, because he’s an exceptional rugby player, and those sorts of things are dear to my heart.

“Te Akau is a world-class team and I thank them for persevering with Skew Wiff because she’s not easy. 12 months ago at Taupo, she pulled all her tricks out of the bag and we wondered whether we would ever see her full potential.

“They have a special management team and I’d particularly like to thank Tayla Melvin for all the work she does with her, and also Opie Bosson who has a special relationship with her.

“No one has a closer relationship with Opie, through his ups and downs, than David Ellis, but I think back to the time he was working with us here, a few years ago, during a busy time at the back crush with the boys and we’re very proud of the fact that he is still riding because that was a time when he had his doubts.

“It all fits in to make for a pretty emotional victory, when you consider all the history around it and what made it happen.

“The mare, Starvoia, was purchased after she finished racing with trainers John and Karen Parsons. 

“My previous vet, Dr. Chris Phillips, and I flew down there to inspect her and to do the pre-sale vet check. We had to put her in a cattle race with a steel bar behind her, but anyway, we got her home in foal to Savabeel and she had Skew Wiff.

“I liked the filly, she was a nuggety sort of type and she was entered for Book 1 at Karaka.

“David Ellis had been for his yearling inspections at Waikato Stud and had her on his shortlist, but over the Christmas/New Year period she copped a kick in the paddock on the forearm, ended up with a bone infection and she required surgery to scrape the bone and eliminate infection. So she was withdrawn from sale.

“I explained it David at the sales and said that if we get her back on track then Te Akau can train her.

“So to be a small part of the success of the whole Te Akau organisation and to witness Imperatriz’s incredible win in Australia, a short time after Skew Wiff winning a Group One at Hawkes Bay, it just makes everyone in the Chittick family, everyone at Waikato Stud, and everyone in New Zealand racing incredibly proud.

“What Te Akau Racing and New Zealand racing are doing at the moment – we’re world leaders and we should be very proud.

“It certainly made for a very exciting afternoon, after a rather dull morning (All Black loss), but to be fair, racing is more important to us.

“We were very proud that Kris (Shailer) was on course to represent Waikato Stud, who does a very good job for us pre-training our horses and as racing manager.”

 Skew Wiff was strapped by Tayla Melvin. 


Photo credit - www.raceimages.co.nz


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