FEATURE RACE COMMENT
Later in the day, an In The Pocket filly from the grand racemare Under Cover Lover named Affairs Of State went under the hammer. She was a serious target and went for $90,000.
"I really liked her brother who came from the Sales," recalled Driver. "I got a offer, and when I couldn't pay the bills at the time, I let him go. When I saw this filly, I thought she had a nice, wee head. She was small type, a little on the fine side, but she looked as if she could run early," said Driver.
He bought her from Lincoln breeder Hamish Roberts for his nephew 'CJ', and as Gretamaro she is rivalled only by Western Dream as the best 3-year-old filly in New Zealand. She has never missed a big event, and had raced twice as many times as any other horse in the $130,000 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Fillies Pace at Addington last week. She won the race, not easily from Affairs Of State, but it would be fair to say she never reallly looked like not winning it. It was her ninth win and her stakes won went to $233,554.
Driver was right when he gave driver Robbie Holmes credit for his judicious handling of the filly. He did not go to town over the first 2-300 metres, an the wisdom of this move paid off because he was able to secure cover three-back on the outer. At the 1200m, he gently eased out, and was in front and ahead of Affairs Of State at the 900m. The danger then was how well the lightly-tried, splendidly-bred but not race-hardened Affairs Of State would respond to a dust-up with the finely-honed Gretamaro. For a start, and even till near the end, Affairs Of State gave Gretamaro what-ho. It was a grim struggle, but 30 metres out, Gretamaro had her nose in front, and 20 metres further on, had a fraction more, and there was a convincing half a head between them at the end.
Driver is a meticulous trainer. He likes his horses to have their own paddock, and old Gaelic Skipper, who won him nearly $400,000, is there to keep Gretamaro company. "I'm happy to take the grass to the horse, rather than the horse to the grass. I'm very fussy, and I treat them all like individuals. There's a hot wire between them, but she'll kick out if anything happens that she doesn't like. And I've got to work her. She finished on Wednesday running half in a minute. She's not a horse I can cheat on," he said.
Next for Gretamaro is the Southland Oaks, and later the New Zealand Oaks and the Nevele R Fillies Final. And that, as a racehorse, will be the end of it. "She'll come back as an eight or nine-win horse, and that will be to tough for her," he said.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 22Feb06