IN Racing
Sharrock eyes spring after Rangitikei Cup success
Islington Lass could have Group One goals on her radar after capping her breakthrough campaign with victory in Saturday’s Listed James Bull Rangitikei Cup (1600m) at Trentham.
Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | May 18, 2024
Islington Lass powers away from Lincoln Falls to win Saturday’s Listed James Bull Rangitikei Cup (1600m) at Trentham. Photo: Race Images Palmerston North

Islington Lass could have Group One goals on her radar after capping her breakthrough campaign with victory in Saturday’s Listed James Bull Rangitikei Cup (1600m) at Trentham.

The $80,000 feature was the sixth win from only a 10-start career for the Proisir mare, who has now earned more than $146,000.

The five-year-old began the season with a rating of 70, but wasted no time in climbing through the ranks with impressive victories at New Plymouth on November 24, Trentham on December 23 and Otaki on April 1.

Islington Lass suffered her first defeat of the season when second to Mr Mojo Risin’ in the Listed ANZAC Mile (1600m) at Otaki on April 25, but she bounced back in style at Trentham on Saturday with a first black-type success.

The $1.80 favourite had drawn awkwardly in gate 12 among a 13-horse field, and she was caught four wide for most of the race but with cover. Rider Michael McNab brought her to the outside at the top of the straight and set out in pursuit of front-running stablemate Sumi.

That rival had plenty left in the tank and was showing no signs of stopping, while the Lisa Latta-trained Lincoln Falls loomed as a major threat wider out. With those rivals going strongly on each side of her, it briefly looked like third might be the best that Islington Lass could manage.

But that little bit of X-factor kicked in through the last 150m and Islington Lass surged forward, hitting the lead and pulling ahead to win by half a length. Lincoln Falls took second, with Sumi another length away in third.

“I thought her last-start run was her best performance so far, and she got beaten that day,” McNab said. “She made hard work of it today, real hard work, but she got the job done in the end.

“Lincoln Falls probably put at least a neck on me at one stage and her wheels were spinning. It took her a while to change legs as well, so she’s done it all wrong for a lot of the race, but she got it right in the last bit.”

Islington Lass became the third Rangitikei Cup winner in the last seven years for trainer Allan Sharrock, who won it with Ladies First in 2017 and Justaskme last year.

“She sat four wide today and I thought she was gone at the corner,” Sharrock admitted. “I thought Sumi had her covered. But she was relentless.

“She’s had 10 races now and won six of them, and she’s still learning the game. She’s a lovely big mare, more than 16 hands, and she has attitude too.”

Sharrock is now keen to point Islington Lass towards the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings on October 12.

“I’ll have to talk to the owner, but I think she’s that sort of quality,” he said. “She doesn’t mind an off track, so if we have a wet spring, she could even go for both the mile and the 2000m race.

“She’ll got to the paddock now for a month, and then we’ll plan our assault on that Spring Carnival.”

Islington Lass is one of three winners out of the Montjeu mare Miss Relentless, who is also the dam of the nine-race winner and Group Three-placed Alhambra Lad. Miss Relentless is a half-sister to Trelawney Stud’s Group One winner and quality broodmare Boundless.

Sharrock was pleased with all of his three runners in Saturday’s Rangitikei Cup, with Sumi finishing third while Justaskme produced an eye-catching finish for fifth under 59kg. He is building towards the Listed AGC Challenge Stakes (1600m) at Wanganui on June 1.

“Justaskme ran a real good race, the old boy, and he’s still got some more wins in him yet,” Sharrock said.

“I think we could go to stud with Sumi, but she may keep racing until around Christmas once she’s in foal.”