Skew Wiff Group 3 Melbourne Cup Day Magic

Date: 8 Nov 2023

Skew Wiff Group 3 Melbourne Cup Day Magic


Group One winner Skew Wiff (4 m Savabeel – Starvoia, by Starcraft) made a splash on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington, winning the $200,000 The Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (Gr. 3, 1400m).


Having ended her three-year-old season 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.

She then proceeded to beat what was widely considered the strongest Tarzino Trophy (Gr. 1, 1400m) field in recent years on 9 September at Hastings, which included nine Group One winners, four of whom won Group One races last year in Australia.

Plans were afoot for the $10 million Golden Eagle (1500m) on 4 November at Rosehill Gardens, but came unstuck when she became fractious in the barriers and was scratched from the Rose of Kingston Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m) at Flemington.

She subsequently finished close sixth in the Tristarc Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m) on 21 October at Caulfield, with fitted her nicely for this assignment. 

Although stricken by an awkward draw (10), which can prove pivotal even on the wide expanses at Flemington, there was solace in the thinking that Skew Wiff would be better suited away from the rail and so it proved.

Rider Opie Bosson found a terrific spot in midfield, three wide with cover, and when he let the brakes go inside the 200m Skew Wiff again delivered the wicked acceleration that sets her apart.

It showcased the talent and sheer resolve of Skew Wiff, matched by a copybook ride from Bosson, who recently recorded his 93rd Group One win when stable-mate Imperatriz (I Am Invincible) won the Manikato Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m).

On footing upgraded to Good3, Skew Wiff ran 1400 metres in 1:23.9, last 600m in 33.5, and paid $6.60 & $2.20 on the NZ TAB tote.

“She deserved that,” said trainer Mark Walker. “She’s been tough in the barriers, tough in track work, but Julien Welsh did a great job helping to sort her out and Laura Winks riding her track work has been really helpful as well.

“(Assistant trainer) Ben Gleeson is very calm and collected, and he was adamant that we could get her right after she played up in the barriers at Flemington.

“We had to make a call whether to send her back to New Zealand, but Ben has managed her so well.

“It was very satisfying to win and I think she represented New Zealand very well on a premier day of racing that is watched by millions.

“So, a lot of people involved and to thank for their efforts with this mare, and what a brilliant ride of Opie’s, he timed it to perfection.”

Skew Wiff, bred and owned by Waikato Stud, has earned NZ$582,676 courtesy of four wins and five seconds from 15 starts. 



“We’re in Australia, but not at Flemington, sort of outback New South Wales for (son) George’s 21st,” said Mark Chittick (Waikato Stud).

“It went like clockwork, absolutely perfectly positioned and rated by Opie (Bosson) and couldn’t have worked out any better.

“She’ll get a bit more confidence out of that, too, and the Te Akau team said she’d improve from the run at Caulfield.

“It ended up being six weeks between runs, with the mishap in the gates, but overall the reports were that she was ready to go again and she must have been because it was great run.

“I’d like to thank the whole Te Akau team, especially Te Akau Australia and the staff they’ve got at the new stables at Cranbourne. 

“It’s been documented that she’s not been the easiest to deal with, but she’s certainly getting better and Opie (Bosson) and her have built up a great relationship. 

“After she was scratched in the Rose of Kingston Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m), Mark (Walker) sent her Julien Welsh, who specializes in solving these sorts of issues, and she’s continued to do everything right since.

“It’s franked her New Zealand form and it looks like she’s got a lot ahead of her, too.”

By Waikato Stud eight-time Champion Sire Savabeel (Zabeel), Skew Wiff is the first foal from impressive stakes winning sprinter Starvoia (Starcraft), and carries a sire line cross of the brilliant Nureyev (Northern Dancer), a stallion renowned for injecting quality into any breed, the ability to accelerate, and some beautiful movers. 

“It was fantastic to be here and have a win on Melbourne Cup Day, a big thrill,” said Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM. 

“It was a beautiful ride and all credit to Ben Gleeson and the team that Mark Walker has got here in Melbourne.

“They’ve done a great job of training a filly that has been difficult and it doesn’t get much better for everyone at Waikato Stud to be winning a race on this historic day of racing.

“It’s a big day for the Chittick family and Charlotte (Chittick) was here representing the family and she did a first-class job. 

“She paraded looking absolutely amazing, so we were quite confident, and it just mapped so well for her when Opie got cover just off the leaders.”

It was the 21st Australian stakes' win for Te Akau since Gingernuts (Iffraaj) won the Rosehill Guineas (Gr. 1, 2000m) in 2017, and nine of those have been at Group One level.

Skew Wiff was strapped by Jason Levin. 


Photo credits: (George Sal/Racing Photos) & TTR AusNZ (The Image in Everything)


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