Matamata Double - Merlotti Makes Magic

Date: 20 Apr 2024

Matamata Double - Merlotti Makes Magic

Resuming in the best way possible, Merlotti (4 g Burgundy – Ruppertsberg, by Montjeu) won the $17,000 Hoot And Boobs Rating 60 1200 metres on 19 April at Matamata.

Held together to finish among the minors when trialling on 28 March at Tauranga, Merlotti had continued good form with a close third in a similar event two starts ago, before spelling, and appeared capable of proving competitive fresh-up.

Ridden by Warren Kennedy, who recorded his 100th win this season aboard stable-mate Lightning Dream (Rip Van Winkle) earlier on the programme, Merlotti raced between runners in fifth before receiving a nice split one off the rail turning for home and he fought hard to score in a close finish.

“The owners have been so patient with him and it’s great to see him win again,” said Mark Walker, who trains in partnership with Sam Bergerson.

“He’s been a work in progress and hopefully he can grow again in confidence following the win. 

“He’s taken a while to mature but he's capable when he gets conditions to suit.”

Owned by the Te Akau Merlotti Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), he was bought by David Ellis CNZM at the 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale, from the draft of Kilgravin Lodge, paying $30,000.

“He was a nice horse by a sire (Burgudy) we knew so well, from a good Pencarrow Stud family, from where we bought Burgundy and Darci Brahma, and it’s a family that continues to leave plenty of winners,” Ellis said. 

Ellis purchased Burgundy (Redoute’s Choice) as a yearling at Karaka, having already purchased his three-quarter brother Darci Brahma (Danehill), the subsequent five-time Group One winner and Champion Sire, trained by Te Akau.

Burgundy followed suit, winning five stakes races, Group One placed in the Telegraph (Gr. 1, 1200m), and widely regarded as the fastest horse ever trained by Te Akau.

At stud, his first three two-year-olds all won on debut, with stakes' winner and NZB Filly of the Year Dijon Bleu among his first crop. Unfortunately, Burgundy died after serving only four seasons, yet his progeny has continued in terrific form and shown versatility winning from 1000 metres to 3200 metres. 

In recent seasons, Burgundy Te Akau homebred fillies Belle En Rouge and Maven Belle raced with particular distinction. Belle En Rouge won the New Zealand Oaks (Gr. 1, 2400m) and became New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year, while Maven Belle was a Group One winner and crowned Champion Two-Year-Old. 

The dam of Merlotti, Ruppertsburg, is by internationally acclaimed Montjeu (Sadler’s Wells), who made significant impact as a sire in New Zealand, after winning French and Irish Derby, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. 

As a broodmare, Ruppertsburg has left five winners of 16 races, including stakes placed Adolay (Fast ‘N’ Famous).

Grand-dam Clear Rose (Deputy Governor) was an exceptionally good filly and very athletic 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) winner and Joint Top Filly in 3YO Free Handicaps. As a three-year-old, she won the Eulogy Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m) and Desert Gold Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m), runner-up in the NZ Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m), and went on to win the Japan/NZ International Stakes (Gr. 2, 1600m) before leaving five individual winners as broodmare.

On course to celebrate his second winner on the programme, following Lightning Dream (Rip Van Winkle), part-owner Garry Trow said: “I’ve been around horses all my life, since I was 15, and used to help out the caretaker at Awapuni racecourse.

“I live in Napier now, but used to also work for top trainer Eric Temperton at Awapuni. I used to look after Purdie and Young Ida, and he trained Silver Knight to win the Melbourne Cup in 1971. 

“I had a share in Military Step (Tavistock) with Te Akau and he won three races including the South Waikato Cup here at Matamata, and all three horses I’ve been involved in with them have all won now.

“Sam (Bergerson) thought that they might both be able to win today and they have, so it’s very good.

“Merlotti is not the easiest, but Lightning Dream has really improved over a bit more distance.”

Merlotti was strapped Muralla Mallesh.

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