Sorcha the Scorcher - Double Pearl Bonus

Date: 31 Aug 2023

Sorcha the Scorcher - Double Pearl Bonus


A course/distance winner seven days prior, Sorcha (4 m Burgundy – Niamh Elizabeth, by Per Incanto) rose in grade to win the $18,500 Entain/NZB Insurance Pearl Series Rating 65 Fillies & Mares 1200 metres (eligible $20,000 bonus) on 31 August at Riccarton (poly-track) - heading a stable quinella.


It was the second $20,000 Pearl Series Bonus, which doubled for the 2023/24 season when Entain came onboard, that Sorcha has won in just seven days (after the Pearl Series Maiden 1200 metres on 24 August).  Second placed stable-mate French Rose (Burgundy), who was also eligible, received $4,000.

After winning earlier on the programme with Talisker (Embellish), a stakes' placed 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 2000m) nominee who scored fresh-up, training partners Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson were rewarded with the perfect outcome when their two remaining entrants finished first and second.

Emulating her fresh-up win, when utilising barrier one to lead before easing down by nearly two and a quarter lengths, Sorcha again repeated the ‘old instructions’ flying the gate to land in front and increasing the lead to charge away for a two and a half length victory.

With weight relief to 56.5kg under Te Akau apprentice Niranjan Parmar (a2), who also rode Talisker and is doing his job impeccably, Sorcha rated a top three chance having clocked the fastest last 600m (33.0) at the previous meeting, a time shared by stable-mates Cote de Beaune (Burgundy) and Navalha (Sebring) - she added to a hat-trick of wins for the stable on that day, and consecutive victories has bolstered her consistent record of only finishing outside the first four once in nine starts. 

It was also a solid performance by French Rose, who travelled on the heels of Sorcha throughout and picked up nicely in the straight for second. She was a course/distance winner on 9 August and has since finished fifth when just over a length from the winner. 

At her previous start over 1200 metres on the poly-track, Sorcha clocked 1:10.7 and paid $3.20 & $1.80 on the NZ TAB tote, before upping the ante to run the trip in 1:10.0 and return $3.70 & $1.70. 



“It was another really strong win and a lovely ride of Parmar’s,” Walker said.

“She’s a mare that has just been a bit slower maturing and had a few issues as a young horse, but she’s really going on with it now.

“We have our eyes on some black type races for her down here (South Island), so it's a great result to keep our sights on those races.”

Bred by Glenn & Cathie Holmes and Te Akau Stud, and owned by them in conjunction with Paul Martin, the year older sister to stable-mate Cu Chulainn, who won two from four and placed in the Champagne Stakes (Listed, 1200m) last season, Sorcha has continued the trend of good horses stemming from the family.

Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM kicked things off with the family when he raced Thrive (Colombia) with his good friend and breeder Ken Browne. 

Thrive was out of the dam of Niamh Elizabeth, Trove (Paris Opera), bred by Tom and Jane Lowry, from their Okawa Stud lineage, before being purchased by Browne, while third dam Fun (Three Legs – Enjoy, by Aythorpe) produced In Joyment (St Hilarion), who included six wins over staying distances and amassed stakes of $579,974.

A winner at her second start in New Zealand, In Joyment transferred to Gai Waterhouse, Sydney, where in 1998 she won the Metropolitan Handicap (Gr. 1, 2500m).

Ellis purchased Niamh Elizabeth for $62,500 at the 2014 NZB Select Yearling Sale and, raced by Martin, she was a handy mare that won over 1200 metres at Matamata.

Irish Red was her first foal, bred and owned by the same trio, and she was a dual winner to 1400 metres and was stakes' placed three times. 

“Ken (Browne) and I raced Thrive, a Group Three winning half-sister to the mother of Irish Red, Sorcha, and Cu Chulainn, and I bought Niamh Elizabeth as a yearling at Karaka,” Ellis said.

“With Glenn and Cathie and Paul, all really loyal owners with Te Akau, we’ve had a lot of fun and the now that Sorcha is winning it just adds to the good results.  

“We’ve had another terrific start to spring racing in the South Island, which has served us so well in the past, and the team headed by Ashley Handley and Kendyl Lee is doing a first-class job and has so far won six of the eight races we’ve contested. 

“We’ve often found that horses we send down really thrive in the South Island. We’ve had a lot of success at Riccarton, winning the 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) seven times, and the 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) six times, as well as winning other stakes' races, and we love supporting South Island racing.

Sorcha was strapped by Ashley Handley. 



Photo credit - Ajay Berry -


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