Valachi experienced a fantastic result on Derby Day at Ellerslie when Communique (Redwood – Al Bayan, by Zabeel) and Karalino (Zacinto – Tawny Run, by Runyon) finished first and second respectively in the $70,000 Group 3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m).
Both trained by Stephen Autridge at Matamata, it was exciting to see the golden silks looming a furlong out, locked in battle, although Communique got in the deciding strides under visiting rider Michael Walker.
Autridge took the chance on Walker, fresh off success in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes, and he was repaid handsomely as Walker produced an outstanding ride. “She felt enormous travelling into it and I think she’s got a big future,” Walker said.
“She’s got a lot to learn but I really like her, she’s got the class to be highly competitive in Australia over staying distances.
“It’s good to get a win for a good mate in Stephen Autridge as he is an amazing trainer,” he added.
After showing above average attributes to win a Maiden over a mile in January at Ellerslie, Communique had found the line solidly with notable sectionals behind Dragon Leap a fortnight earlier in the Group 2 Avondale Guineas. Her preparation really set her in a good stead coming into the Guineas and she was tested throughout over a variety of distances in a bid to build her fitness and give her the best chance to win a feature race.
Her breeding suggests that she will only improve with the added distance. Her Dam Al Bayan is a sister to multiple Group winners Cronus, winner of the Group 2 Prime Minister’s Cup (2400m), and Pravda, winner of the Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap (2400m).
Autridge was thrilled with the win and delighted he could procure his first stakes winner for Valachi Downs’ principal Kevin Hickman and his wife Joanna.
“I knew both Communique and Karalino were going well so it’s a great thrill to win the race, the quinella makes it twice as good,” Autridge said.
Stablemate Karalino, who had contracted Valachi jockey Craig Grylls in the saddle, got held up a little in the run but had her chance, with Communique proving to good in the end.