Wallace measures his steps with Pennyweka

By Dennis Ryan

24 Aug 2023

Wallace measures his steps with PennywekaJim Wallace with Pennyweka and regular work rider Vania Mason at the Opaki track last week.

Masterton trainer Jim Wallace is as conservative as ever weighing up his options with last season’s star staying filly Pennyweka.
In what ranks as one of the most stunning afterthoughts in modern racing, Wallace gambled on more start at the end of Pennyweka’s three-year-old season and hit the jackpot, completing one of the rarest of transtasman doubles with victory in the Australian Oaks at Randwick.
Three weeks earlier Pennyweka had carried the distinctive green Galloping Wekas colours to a dominant New Zealand Oaks win at Trentham in what was intended to be her season finale. But that all changed in subsequent days as the slightly built daughter of Satono Aladdin bounced through the race so well that a late entry fee was paid for the ATC Oaks.
Pennyweka took it all in her stride, making her first trip away from home to Sydney via Auckland and never flinched on the way to dominating her Randwick rivals. With the evidence of that venture to draw on, Wallace is now making spring plans that may include another trip to Australia – but again with caution being the deciding factor.
“We learnt a lot on the Sydney trip,” Wallace recounted when RaceForm caught up with him at Masterton’s Opaki training centre last week. “Before the (New Zealand) Oaks there was no thought of going to Sydney – that was going to be it for the season – and even when she won nothing changed.
“Then we got a call from the ATC asking whether we would lodge a late entry, but what changed our thinking was the way she came through Trentham. So we decided to pay the $22,000 fee, which is when things for me got a bit nervous.
“I had no idea how she would take it all and that late entry fee was in the back of my mind,” said Wallace, who bred Pennyweka in partnership with his brother Les, whose wife Janine was the mastermind behind the successful Pennyweka syndication model.
“But from the time she left home she never batted an eyelid – no matter what, she absolutely couldn’t have given a stuff.”
Now there are more exciting plans on the table, with the Gr. 1 Tarzino Trophy at Hastings on September 9 confirmed as the initial target. After that are the remaining two legs of the Hawke’s Bay spring treble, the Gr. 1 Arrowfield Stud Plate on September 30 and the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic on October 14, while Pennyweka is also entered for the Caulfield Cup on October 21.
“All along I’ve said that it wouldn’t be until next year that she would be fully mature and ready to show her best,” Wallace noted. “Nothing has happened since to change my mind.
“She is entered for the Caulfield Cup, but only after my son Michael got (Melbourne form analyst) Dan O’Sullivan to do some research and come up with a reason to nominate her. Dan did say that while four-year-old mares don’t have a very good record in the Caulfield Cup, her actual ratings stacked up well and on that basis you couldn’t rule her out.
“Entries for the Melbourne Cup don’t close until the first week of September, but that’s a definite no.”
After a two-month spell, Pennyweka recommenced training on June 30 and eight weeks down the track everything has gone to plan. A quiet jumpout at Foxton a fortnight ago will be followed by a trial at the same venue next week, by which time Wallace anticipates Pennyweka will be ready to resume in the 1400-metre Tarzino Trophy.
“I’m very happy with how she’s coming along, she did well during her time out and since resuming work she’s been the same as always, so straightforward to do anything with, she’s very much a no-fuss horse.
“She’s still not very big or anything much to look at, but she has a lot of natural talent, her fitness isn’t an issue, and now it’s a matter of fine tuning.”
Pennyweka is listed at $26 on the TAB’s fixed odds market for the Tarzino Trophy, up to 1600 metres for the Arrowfield her odds come into $16 and she’s the clear favourite at $5 for the 2040-metre Livamol Classic.
While Wallace acknowledges that range of odds given Pennyweka’s two classic wins at 2400 metres, he doesn’t discount her prospects in the first two shorter legs at Hastings.
“A Group One win at 1400 or 1600 metres – that would be a great way to start this campaign – and who’s to know if she can’t do it?”