A proven Group 1 star in her homeland, Kiwi mare Campionessa has added valuable Australian black-type to her CV with a determined win in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield.

Te Akau Racing’s high-class six-year-old has put together an outstanding record in New Zealand, winning 10 of her 28 starts along with nine placings and more than $1 million in stakes.

The final frontier was Australia, where her only previous start produced a sixth placing in the Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington last March.

Her second visit across the Tasman produced a much better outcome on Saturday's weight-for-age contest.

Rider Michael Dee had Campionessa ideally placed in fourth on the rail behind the front-running El Soleado and Unusual Culture.

Briefly boxed in at the home turn, Campionessa found clear air at the 300m mark and soon surged into contention.

The 2019 Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare went with her and turned it into a head-bobbing battle through the final 50m, but Campionessa prevailed in a nail-biting photo finish.

Gold Trail, the 2022 Melbourne Cup hero, took the minor placing.

“Pre-race, I wasn’t sure if we were going to lead or box-seat,” Dee said.

“We eventually ended up in the box seat, and it was just a matter of biding our time and waiting for the gaps to come.

“The gap did come and she gave a really good kick. I thought we were going to win quite comfortably at that stage, but being at Caulfield for the first time, she probably just had a bit of a look around.

"It wasn’t until Vow And Declare came up beside her that she found that bit extra.

“Her form in New Zealand is very, very good. She ran a huge race behind Legarto last start.

"So I was very confident leading into the race. She was obviously very fit for this, and that probably helped her get across the line today.”

While the Peter Young Stakes is often used as a stepping stone towards longer races such as the Australian Cup, trainer Mark Walker is leaning towards bringing Campionessa back to 1600m for her future Australian targets.
“We don’t usually make decisions on raceday, but my gut feeling is that we might come back to a mile for the Sunline Stakes at Moonee Valley,” he said.

“After that, there’s the Queen of the Turf Stakes in Sydney.”

One of nine stakes winners for Mapperley Stud stallion Contributer, Campionessa was bred by Mapperley principal Simms Davison.

She is out of the O’Reilly mare Bella Carolina, who is also the dam of four other winners including Listed winners Tennessee and Leedox.