Wallaces’ Weka steals the show at Trentham

By Dennis Ryan

22 Mar 2023

Wallaces’ Weka steals the show at TrenthamThe large entourage behind Pennyweka celebrate their memorable victory in the Al Basti Equiworld Dub

Big wins revolving around the Wallace family’s Ardsley Stud have been numerous over the past half-century, but it would be difficult to surpass the various layers that accompanied Pennyweka’s memorable victory in Saturday’s Gr. 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks.
That took place just two days after the passing of matriarch Margaret Wallace and a day after the family had converged from various points of the globe to celebrate the life of Madeleine Wallace, who passed away in February.
Madeleine’s father-in-law Jim Wallace and his brother Les bred Pennyweka, by Satono Aladdin from a mare descended from the very first broodmare owned by Ardsley Stud founder Jim Wallace senior, who combined his work as a veterinarian with studmaster. Pennyweka’s name identifies her as one of numerous winners raced by syndicates managed by Les Wallace’s wife Janine under the Galloping Wekas brand, however she is the first of that group to be trained by Jim.
“Pennyweka descends from a mare that my father bred from a mare he borrowed off Ted Preston back in the late 1960s when he was doing the vet work at Te Parae Stud,” Jim Wallace recalled. “He sent the mare who was named Sweetie to Agricola at Te Parae and the result of that mating, a filly named Agree, is the fourth dam of Pennyweka.”
Successive generations of the line have in fact come up with a number of quality performers. Agree’s progeny included the Gr. 1 Australian Cup winner Kip (by resident Ardsley stallion Forty Winks ll), while Agree’s grand-daughter Our Sophie produced the Auckland Cup winner Titch, who was trained for Jim Wallace senior by Kevin Myers, a cousin of Jim junior’s wife Mary.
Pennyweka, the latest family member to shine, is out of Titch’s Pentire half-sister Threepence, whose three progeny to race have all been winners.
“Our father originally had Threepence, but when he died in 2017 Les and I took her over and have bred from her in partnership since. Her first mating for us was to Satono Aladdin up at Rich Hill Stud.
“He was such a quality galloper, we sent three mares to him in his first year and we’ve got four in foal to him now. Unfortunately Pennyweka’s dam missed to him just before he went back to Japan, but given what he’s done so quickly with two Group One winners, I’m pretty happy to be in his corner.”
Titch was by the most successful stallion to stand at Ardsley, the former top Australian sprinter Lord Ballina. He sired major winners at all distances, ranging from Titch and Sydney Cup winner Count Chivas at 3200m, to the classic winners Bocelli, Royal Magic, Mirror Magic and Showella, and feature sprint winners Bureaucracy and Lord Tridan.
Another class act by Lord Ballina was Cent Home, who Jim Wallace rates as the best horse he has trained in his near 30 years with a licence. His 12 wins through the late 1990s/early 2000s included the Gr. 1 Kelt Capital Stakes and Captain Cook Stakes, and the Gr. 2 St George Stakes at Caulfield.
“Cent Home stands out among the horses I’ve trained,” Wallace says. “For much of his career he raced on three legs yet still won over $1 million. One of my abiding memories was Colin Jillings asking to see him after his Kelt win and the comment he made that his performance that day was one of the best he had ever witnessed by a horse anywhere.”
Only time will tell whether Pennyweka will challenge Cent Home on her trainer’s list, but one thing Wallace admits is that she has always displayed extreme potential.
“With Les and me partners in the filly, Janine was keen to put her into a syndicate but I was adamant I would be training her. For a long time I had thought she was way above average, and it’s very satisfying to see her live up to that rating.
“What happened on Saturday was special given everything that had happened and really, it couldn’t have worked out better. Janine does a wonderful job with her syndicates and whether it’s the one and two per centers or the rest of us, everyone had a ball, it was a fantastic day for all of us.”
The solid tempo in the Oaks set up by the favourite Sakura Girl played right into Pennyweka’s hands as Ryan Elliot brought her through late to score easily and credit the young jockey with his sixth Group One win for the season.
“The race itself was a bit nerve-wracking when she got into a bit of a scrimmage with a round to go, but the further they went the better I was feeling. Once they sorted themselves out she wasn’t spending a penny, with 600 to go things started to open up and when the gap came for her she was through and away.”
Wallace is now weighing his options, which may lead to a late entry for the Australian Oaks on April 8 given how well Pennyweka has come through her big weekend.
“She licked the bowl clean on Saturday night and when she came in off the track on Monday morning, the girl who rides her work said she felt like a coiled spring.
“We don’t have to make a decision whether to pay the (A$22,000) late fee until the Tuesday before the race, so at this stage we’re exploring that possibility.”