Ruakaka galloper Diva Express proved too swift for her two-year-old rivals when she took out the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1200m) at Avondale on Thursday.
Prepared by Ken Rae and daughter Krystal Williams-Tuhoro, the Shamexpress filly was the most experienced in the field having her sixth raceday start in the contest, a record that included a third in Listed company at Riccarton back in November.
Bounced to the front from a wide barrier by rider Vinnie Colgan, Diva Express travelled sweetly as she set a solid pace that had a number of her competitors off the bit approaching the home corner.
Under the urgings of Colgan, Diva Express found plenty in the run home as she held out the challenges of Showoroses and Grayvee in the closing stages to register her first career victory.
Rae was quick to praise the filly who he picked up for just $4,500 from the Mapperley Stud draft during Book 3 at Karaka last year.
“She is not the biggest horse in commission but I’d rather have a small horse with plenty of heart than a big one with no heart,” he said.
“She’s very tough and she just thrives on hard work.
“She has done most of her racing in the South Island and was probably a little too fresh when she ran at Riccarton last month.
“She over-raced a touch because of it so I said to Vinnie I didn’t mind where she was today but to just get her to settle.
“He rated her nicely in front and she was just too good in the end.”
With a victory under her belt now, Rae believes there could be more in store for Diva Express over the next few months.
“The way she has gone today I think she could figure in some of those good winter two-year-old races that are coming up,” he said.
“Something like the Ryder Stakes could be on the cards but we’ll take her home and see how she does before we make any plans for her.”
The Listed Ryder Stakes (1200m) will be run as the final two-year-old feature of the 2018-19 season at Otaki on July 27. – NZ Racing Desk