|Sherwood Forest provided big race jockey Michael Walker with yet another Group One win when the pair teamed up for a strong win in today’s NZ$1 million New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie.|
A week after he teamed up with Tagaloa to win the Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield, Walker crossed to his native New Zealand and was able to capture New Zealand’s blue riband.
Like Tagaloa, Sherwood Forest was purchased as a yearling from the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, just twelve months earlier. The Derby winner was a $100,000 buy from the draft of Coolmore Stud at the Gold Coast.
“He just outstayed them,” winning trainer Tony Pike said. “The last few races he’s been running in have been a little bit too sharp for him, but I’ve always thought he would come into his own over 2400 metres. It’s a fantastic result and hugely satisfying.”
“He was a bit of a ratbag as a two-year-old, but the team have put in a lot of work with him, and this season was always going to be about the Derby. It’s great when a plan comes off.”
“It was a beautiful ride. We wanted it to be a true staying test. He presented him at the right time, and the horse showed what a genuine stayer he is,” Pike added.
For winning rider Michael Walker the win justified his decision to work hard and continue riding after contemplating retirement recently.
“Five weeks ago I was going to give it away,” Walker said. “I was too heavy and getting sick of all the injuries. I’ve had 13 operations on my left hip, including a hip replacement.”
“But I decided to stick with it, and I’ve been very fortunate to have these results. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to come home and ride this horse. He gave me an amazing ride. He’s such a gentleman, and everything I asked for, he gave.”
“The two favourites have such brilliance, but if there was a chink in their armour, it was going to be the distance. You have to be the best staying horse to win this race, and Tony gave me confidence that I was riding that horse.”
“When he got away from them in the straight, he actually pulled himself up a little bit. I might not go so soon on him, if I get the opportunity to ride him again.”
“I have to rush off and catch a plane back now, so I can’t stick around for the celebrations. But seeing the connections’ smiling faces when I came back off the track was an awesome thrill. It’s why I keep doing this,” Walker added.
Sherwood Forest is the second stakes winner for the lightly raced Giant’s Causeway mare Chasing Mammon – a half sister to Sandown stakes winner Zelsnitz.
As well as Sherwood Forest, Chasing Mammon is the dam of the Morphettville Guineas winner Royal Ocean, also by Fastnet Rock.
Further back it’s the same family as Holy Roman Emperor, Milanova, Pretty Perfect and Heart of Oak.
Winner: Sherwood Forest
Breeding: Fastnet Rock-Chasing Mammon (Giant’s Causeway)
Race: ARC New Zealand Derby G1 (2400m)
Sold for: $100,000
Sale: 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale
Vendor: Coolmore Stud (As Agent)
Buyer: New Zealand Bloodstock
Owner(s): Goodson & Perron Family Trust, Calder Bloodstock Ltd & Deborah Martin
Trainer: Tony Pike (Cambridge)