The Stephen Moffat yard’s confidence in the R70,000 purchase Rio’s Winter was nearly converted on Wednesday night in the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas when she moved up looking the winner before being narrowly denied by the classy and courageous favourite Summer Pudding.
The Oratorio filly had thus repeated the feat of her mother Winter Ade (Western Winter), who finished second in this race for Geoff Woodruff in 2007.
Moffat said she had come out of the race very well and added, “Piere Strydom has no doubt she will stay 1800m, so we will definitely take our chances in the SA Fillies Classic (Grade 1 R1 million race at Turffontein Standside on March 7, also sponsored by Wilgerbosdrift), although I’m not sure about her getting the 2450m SA Oaks trip.”
Considering her good breeding the price Rio’s Winter was acquired for at the National Yearling Sales in 2018 was a bargain.
Winter Ade was not only a Grade 2 runner up but is also a half-sister to two other stakes placed horses, Autumn Splendour and Count Tassilo.
Moffat recalled, “I liked her so thought I would take a chance.”
He admitted R70,000 was still a lot to pay for his small yard but believed the reason for the relative lack of interest in her at the Sales was probably due to her size.
He said, “She was a bit on the small side, but I could see she would grow into a lovely big filly.”
Vaal-based Moffat put together a syndicate of friends, whom he confirmed are now “very happy friends.”
The syndicate consists of Clinton Lines, PJ Delport, N Delport, R Delport, S Delport and Stephen Moffat’s wife Julia.
Whereas Winter Ade started at odds of 40/1 in the 2007 Gauteng Fillies Guineas and was beaten 1,75 lengths by Dane Julia, Rio’s Winter was backed in from 18/1 into 9/1.
Moffat said, “I thought she would just about win and she did everything but win.”
The robust filly showed good gatespeed from draw six and Strydom was able to slot in front of Summer Pudding and secure the rail just as they reached the first turn.
She relaxed well in the box seat.
Strydom kept her covered in the straight on the outside until the 400m mark and then switched inward for her run.
Her resolute finish had taken her level with Summer Pudding by the 100m mark and her momentum looked likely to carry her to victory.
However, Summer Pudding is full of class and courage and fought back to win by a quarter of a length.
The distance was on the sharp side of Summer Pudding’s Range, so Rio’s Winter is going to have a tough task to reverse form. However, her performance was no fluke. She looks the part and will likely do better than her mother’s seven length tenth in the SA Fillies Classic.
Rio’s Winter showed Moffat how good she was from day one and won her debut in a Maiden Juvenile Plate over 1200m last April by three lengths.
She took her chances in the Grade 2 SA Fillies Nursery and the Grade 1 Alan Robertson and finished unplaced in both.
However, the connections always knew she wanted further.
She won fourth time out this season when stepped up to 1450m in a Graduation Plate for fillies and mares and enjoyed the further step up to a mile last Wednesday.
Her half-sister by Mogok, First Winter, has won over 1800m.
Rio’s Winter has earned R251,900 in stakes so far.
By David Thiselton