Three Win Saturday - Cu Chulainn Chops Them Down

Date: 4 Mar 2023

Three Win Saturday - Cu Chulainn Chops Them Down


Debutante Cu Chulainn (2 g Burgundy - Niamh Elizabeth, by Per Incanto) began Derby Day on a bright note for trainer Mark Walker, winning the $30,000 2YO 820 metres on Saturday at Wingatui.

Having kept up a very good gallop to win a trial on 6 September at Tauranga, and sustaining a resolute gallop for close second on 21 February at Avondale, Cu Chulainn appears a promising horse given the manner of his first race day attempt.

Away well but caught wide on the pace proved no obstacle, as he steadied off the leaders' heels approaching the home turn before sailing past in the straight to score by four lengths.

A big strong type, with a great appetite, Cu Chulainn showed his constitution by handling a lengthy float trip from Matamata.

In the race named Pink Ribbon Race Day 30th April, ridden by Te Akau apprentice Joe Kamaruddin, Cu Chulainn ran 820 metres in 47.1 and as race favourite paid $1.90 & $1.20 on the NZ TAB tote.

“It was a really good win by a horse with a bright future and a lovely ride by Joe (Kamaruddin) to get some cover over the short trip,” Walker said.

“It was a tough effort by the horse after leaving on Tuesday and travelling 1291 kilometres to get to Wingatui.”

Walker suggested the trip away would also aid the horse mentally, and all going well could aim towards the $65,000 Berkley Stud Champagne Stakes (Listed, 1200m) on Saturday 6 May at Riccarton.

Cu Chulainn is bred by Glenn & Cathie Holmes and Te Akau Stud, who share ownership in the Te Akau Irish Warrior Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).

Like his sister and former stable-mate Irish Red, who was eye-catching when placed in both two-year-old starts, and was triple stakes' placed including second in the Airfreight Stakes (Listed, 1400m) at Wingatui, Cu Chulainn has shown natural precocity.

Irish Red was the first foal from winning Per Incanto (Street Cry) mare Niamh Elizabeth, a half-sister to stakes' winner Thrive (Colombia) - both trained by Te Akau, while stable-mate and sister Sorcha, runner-up twice from four starts is the second foal, and Cu Chulainn the third. 

Grand-dam Trove (Paris Opera) was bred by Tom and Jane Lowry, from their Okawa Stud family, before being purchased by Ken 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).

Knowing the family well, Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM said: “Ken (Browne) and I raced Thrive, a Group Three winning half-sister to the mother of Cu Chulainn, and I bought Niamh Elizabeth as a yearling at Karaka.

“We bred him at the farm with Glenn and Cathie (Holmes), who along with Paul (Martin) are very loyal owners, and it's a great result for Cu Chulainn to win on debut. 

“It's a family that keeps improving as they mature.”

Cu Chulainn was strapped by Nayton Mitchell.      


Photo and story credit - Tayler Strong


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