Lightly raced Alexa has obviously had her problems, having run only five times in the last year but she earned her first feature cheque in the R150,000 Syringa Handicap (Listed) over 1600m at Turffontein on Saturday.
The four-year-old Caesour filly was sent off at 10-1 as most punters went for Tarry-trained Simply Royal, who went through the pens at 29-10, and stablemate Heaps Of Fun, who went off at 17-2 alongside Banking April, from the Lucky Houdalakis yard. Kilauea drifted from an opening call of 14-10 to 16-1.
After a shuffle at the front topweight Kilauea found herself at the head of affairs, doing it the hard way but still setting a solid gallop. She was followed by My Friend Lee and Leopard Lily, with Shatoosh and Banking April well there. Heaps Of Fun was in midfield with Simply Royal, Span Die Seile, who had Alexa behind her. Off The Mark, Al Hawraa, Fortissimo and Pennington Sands were at the back.
Jockey Gunter Wrogemann pressed the button on Kilauea at the top of the straight and she stole a six-length lead but it was always inevitable the 60kg she would have to carry would tell in the closing stages. She was still several lengths to the good going through the 200m mark but Heaps Of Fun, Alexa and Shatoosh were closing in on her.
Wrogemann’s gamble so nearly paid off, but Alexa lunged at just the right time to get the nod by a head. Heaps Of Fun was a long neck further back in third with Shatoosh weakening very late to finish another 0.80 lengths behind. Simply Royal was always chasing and finished seventh, only 2.20 lengths off the winner.
Maujean said afterwards: “Today she won a really good race. I thought she wouldn’t get there but she just didn’t want to give up. She stuck her head down and won a good race.”
Assistant trainer Tim Woodruff, who had told anyone who would listen beforehand that Alexa was ready to run a big race, said: “This filly has deserved black type. She campaigned very hard (in her three-year-old season last year), the Guineas, the Classic, and she’s been running against the best.
“We hit a bit of a snag with her last year – she injured herself – so we had to put her away.”
He added: “She’s just a lovely filly. She’s honest, she tries hard and she always gives her best. She’s a beautiful animal to work with. This is a really well-deserved win.”