By Julieanne Horsman
It’s not often a locally bred, owned and trained horse wins its home town feature race so when Curata Princess claimed the Nowra Cup by the narrowest of margins it was a cause for celebration.
The four-year-old mare had been set for the race by trainers Robert and Luke Price at the request of owner Max Lamond. He also owns Princess Curata’s dam, Terrera, and his friend Bert Hatton gave him a free service from his stallion Curata Storm.
Sent out a $13 chance, Curata Princess was last for most of the race. With about 700m to go Jeff Penza guided her to the outside which was the place to be on the Soft 6 track. By the time they straightened she was ready to unleash, flashing home to pinch victory from Weekend Affair.
“It didn’t surprise me she finished off so strongly because she has been going well all prep,” Co-trainer Luke Price said. “She had been screaming out for a track with less sting in it and won really well.”
A veteran of the sport, Max Lamond was overjoyed with the result.
“I think it’s a great privilege to be able to win the Cup because nothing is easy in this racing game,” he said.
Max decided to donate $1,000 of the prizemoney towards the construction of a life-size bronze statue of Archer, the local racehorse who famously won the first two Melbourne Cups in 1861 and 1862. Plans for the memorial have been in the works for several years and now Shoalhaven City Turf Club and Shoalhaven City Council are fundraising to make the project a reality.
“We’ve got a rich racing history here in the Shoalhaven Region and we should be proud of it,” he said.
Curata Princess will line up in the Ranvet Neutrolene Handicap over 1600m at Warwick Farm on Wednesday. Max hasn’t made any promises if she wins this time and he is probably glad he didn’ because another strong performance is expected.
“I think she is a really good chance, better than the odds suggest,” Luke Price said. “She came through her last run well and hasn’t put a foot wrong since. This has been her best preparation so far.”
Curata Princess will carry 54kg in the race, the same weight she carried in the Nowra Cup. She will reunite with jockey Jeff Penza and has drawn nicely in barrier six.
“It looks like there is a bit of speed in the race so I would like to see her get a soft run midfield and have a crack at them at the end,” Price said. “She just needs a bit of room and she seems to finish off her races when she isn’t crowded.
“This will most likely be her last race before a spell and if she can show improvement we hope to see her racing in Saturday city grade events.”
Curata Princess is the last horse to beat Live And Free who has since been installed as the favourite for next weekend’s Queensland Derby.