Screen keeps the faith

By Duane Ranger

For a fleeting moment late last year Pukekohe trainer Paulette Screen thought about retiring her six-year-old mare, Regal Petite.

And then she sat behind her.

“She’s had her leg problems and after her most recent campaign in the South Island I thought it was time to pull the plug. But she’s such a wonderful girl to drive. When I got in behind her she just felt so good. I knew that was not the time to finish,” Screen said.

The Franklin horsewoman was bang on with her assumption. Four months after sitting behind Regal Petite, the grand-daughter of the brilliant trotting mare Pride Of Petite, nailed Screen her first Group victory.

That came last Friday night at Alexandra Park when Regal Petite won the Group Three $30,000 N Compass Northern Trotting Breeding Stakes for fillies and mares.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to win my first Group race, especially with a mare that always loses a couple of lengths on the final turn. Even when she won on Friday I thought before the race a placing would be nice. I didn’t expect her to win,” Screen said.

Screen said Regal Petite was a very good 2-year-old and then got hurt damaging her stifle joint bone in her right hind leg.

“The injury still niggles at her the Alexandra Park way around and that’s why we took her to the South Island to race. She is much more comfortable that way around.

“But the stakes are so good up here and because she felt great I thought I would just race her up here for the good place money that is on offer. If it didn't work I would have retired her. This win is a big bonus,” Screen said.

Screen said she noticed that Regal Petite did lose a couple of lengths swinging for home but it wasn’t as much as what she usually gives away.

“She seems to be in real good condition at the moment and has come through the race well. I think the Greenlane Cup will be a bit tough for her so I’ll line her up again at Alexandra Park on March 13 and March 27 and then I’ll give her April off since there isn’t much racing at ‘The Park’ that month,” Screen said.

Regal Petite started well from her 10m handicap, so well that driver David Butcher had her in front with two laps to go before Very Persuasive and Zac Butcher took over at the 1900m.

They were then pushed three-deep on the markers when second favourite Monkey Bones and Brent Mangos took over at the bell.

Once balanced up in the straight Butcher asked the bay for her effort and she took the big gap that opened up to win going away.

The daughter of Sundon and Petite’s Pride trotted the 2700m stand in 3:31.6 (mile rate 2:06) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 60.2 and 30.1.

Cyberspace (Josh Dickie) and Our Dainty Lady (James Stormont) were a length and a head back in third. Regal Petite was the sixth favourite of 12 and paid $22.30 to win.

In five seasons of racing Regal Petite has now won 10 of her 43 starts and placed six times for $70,105.

Screen said she had considered racing Regal Petite in Australia but then thought better of it.

“It costs quite a bit to get her there and home again and when you weigh it all up I think she will be more valuable as a broodmare.

“I will have her served next season and will race her in foal and might even take her back down south for the Cup Carnival. We will see how things develop, but the experts have been telling me to cross her with the speed horse – Muscle Hill,” Screen said.

Screen has now trained two winners this season and 46 ($411,905) since she got her licence in 1998. She said she owed a lot of what she learnt to her former employer and mentor, Peter Wolfenden.

Regal Petite is owned by Screen and her husband Bill and was bred by the ‘J. Syndicate’.