Receive Our Newsletter Twitter Facebook

HB Racing Column 21 Jul 2017

Star-studded line-up likely for HB Gold Trail Stakes

 (By John Jenkins)


The Group 3 $70,000 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes on September 23 is shaping as one of the most interesting races at this year’s Bostock Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.


The 1200m event, the first race in the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year series, has drawn excellent fields in the past but this year’s running is likely to attract most of the cream of the new season three-year-old fillies.


John Morell, the owner-trainer of the dashing two-year-old Florence Jean, has stated he will be aiming the daughter of Pins for the Gold Trail Stakes on the middle day of the carnival and may even give her a run in the $20,000 El Roca Three-year-old (1200m) when the carnival begins on September 3.


“We’ll see what happens, but we will be looking at those races,” Morell said after Florence Jean trounced her rivals by 6 lengths in a 1000m two-year-old race at Ruakaka on July 8.


That was the filly’s second win from only three starts, following a debut victory over 1000m at Ruakaka in January.


If Florence Jean does line up in the Gold Trail Stakes she is sure to have strong opposition with the connections of class fillies Gift Of Power, Princess Rihanna and Ujjayyi saying they are also targeting the race. Then there are the likes of Belle du Nord and Joyfilly (the minor placegetters in April’s Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes) as well as Gold Fever and Hasahalo also waiting in the wings.


The Graeme and Debbie Rogerson trained Gift Of Power caught the eye early in the season when she strung together a hat-trick of wins that included the Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes at Trentham in December. In two subsequent starts the filly, by first season sire Power, finished runner-up to Hasahalo in Group 3 company at Ellerslie before finishing unplaced in the rich Karaka Million in January.


Put aside for a decent break, the rising three-year-old has been back in work for some time now and is pleasing co-trainer Graeme Rogerson with her progress to date.


“She has really furnished into a super looking individual and strengthened up nicely during her time in the paddock,” he reported.

 “She’s been back in work a wee while now and has done everything right so far.    She’s probably just about ready for her first serious gallop in the next week or so and we will then start to make our plans from there.

 “We’ve got the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton as one of her main aims for the early summer with the Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings earmarked as an early assignment.”


Well-performed youngster Princess Rihanna is also likely to head toward the fillies’ feature during the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.

“We’ll probably have her ready to go in the Gold Trail Stakes,” said Lance O’Sullivan, who trains with Andrew Scott.

She won one of her five two-year-old starts this season and she also finished fourth in the Group1 Sistema Stakes, the Group 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes and in the Listed Karaka Million.


One filly unlikely to be at Hastings is this season’s outstanding two-year-old Melody Belle.

The Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards trained daughter of Commands netted four wins including the Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes, the Karaka Million and the Group 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes in Brisbane.

Melody Belle, who was purchased for $57,500 by Te Akau principal David Ellis at Karaka on behalf of Fortuna Syndications, is currently enjoying a good break and on her return the Group 1 Sistema Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day will be a goal.

“We feel she is the right sort of filly to then step up to the $1 million Karaka Three-year-old Mile at Ellerslie at the end of January,” Ellis said.

“Following that she could look to major races like the Coolmore Classic at Randwick, in Sydney if she was happy getting over a bit more ground.”



Numbers are up for HB Group 1 features


Hawke’s Bay Racing is delighted with the number of entries for the three Group 1 races at this year’s Bostock Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.

Forty-seven horses have been nominated for the $200,000 Tarzino Trophy on the first day while the $200,000 Windsor Park Plate on the second day has 56 and the $250,000 Livamol Classic on the last day has 57.

“The numbers are up for all three races, which is great for the club,” general manager Andrew Castles said.


The Tarzino Trophy (formerly the Makfi Challenge Stakes), will be run on September 3. The weight-for-age 1400m event is headed by the outstanding performer Kawi, who will be trying to complete a hat-trick of wins in the race after victories in 2015 and 2016.


New Plymouth trainer Allan Sharrock has nominated Kawi for both the Tarzino Trophy and the Windsor Park Plate (1600m) on September 23 but not in the Livamol Classic (2040m) on October 7, believing the six time Group 1 winner is best at distances up to 1600m.


Kawi is rated on 111 points while the next highest rated horse in the Tarzino Trophy is the former Hong Kong-trained six-year-old Packing Eagle. The Pins gelding is now in the Cambridge stable of Trevor and Martin Cruz after 19 starts in Hong Kong netted six wins, three seconds and two thirds. Three of his wins were in Class 2 races at 1400m while he also finished third behind champion Japanese-trained Maurice in the Group 1 Champions Mile (1600m) at Shatin.


Other notable nominations for the Tarzino Trophy are the New Zealand Derby winner Gingernuts, the Group 1 winning mares Thee Auld Floozie, Aide Memoire and Perfect Fit and the consistent Group 1 placegetter Stolen Dance.


Gingernuts is also nominated for the both the Windsor Park Plate and the Livamol Classic, with trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards saying the horse will be specifically targeted  at those two races.


Vokstok’n’barrell is the highest rated horse among the nominations for the Livamol Classic and his connections are also keen to line up him up in the Windsor Park Plate as a lead up to the 2040m feature.


Weanling walk Sunday

This Sunday’s annual Hawke’s Bay/Poverty Bay Thoroughbred Breeders weanling walk will start at 10am at Guy Lowry’s property at 305 Kawera Road, Okawa.


It will proceed to Chris Russell’s property at 793 Valley Road (off Highway 50) and then to Washpool Station at 2214 Maraekakaho Road. It will then move closer to Hastings at Richard McKenzie’s property at 121 Rosser Road before finishing at the Hawke’s Bay Racing Stables in Wall Road.


Among the weanlings on display will be by the stallions Shamexpress, Niagara, Per Incanto, Charm Sprit, Reliable Man, Swiss Ace, Rip Van Winkle, Bullet Train, Jakkalberry, Iffraaj and Nom du Jeu.

   At the completion of the weanling walk a luncheon will be held at Off The Track Restaurant on Havelock Road, starting at 12.30pm, where there will also be a silent auction.


For catering purposes, those intending to partake in the luncheon need to make a reservation with either Sharyn Craig at email: and mobile: 027 4999084 or Isabell Roddick at email: and phone: (06) 8798662.


HB-bred still undefeated


Chopin’s Fantaisie, a three-year-old bred by Taupo’s Pat Lowry, made it four wins from four starts with another impressive victory in Singapore on Sunday.


The Michael Clements-trained gelding, a brother to the former Hong Kong champion Ambitious Dragon, maintained his unbeaten record with a half-length victory in a $S60,000 race over 1400m at Kranji.


Although the margin wasn’t great, winning jockey Glen Boss said he was always confident of getting the decision.


“He will never win by a space as that is not his caper. It’s more cat-and-mouse style with him.


“He’s got a lovely long action and has a great attitude. He will grow and mature further as he’s not the full product yet – he is coming along quite well and will be even better in six months’ time.


“He’s such an unassuming horse, but he has so much energy and he can run time. Mike will have a lot of fun with him as he will continue to improve for sure.”


Chopin’s Fantaisie is by Pins out of the Oregon mare Golden Gamble and was sold by Lowry for $150,000 at the premier session of the 2015 Karaka yearling sales.


The Hastings training partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen are preparing an unraced two-year-old full-sister to Chopin’s Fantaisie and the mare Golden Gamble is now in foal to Rock ‘n’ Pop. 


Pleasing run by Pacorus


Talented stayer Pacorus, part-owned by Havelock North couple Dave and Jenny Morison, has come through his latest outing in good shape.


He finished fourth over a mile at Te Rapa last Saturday in his final outing before the Listed $65,000 Taumarunui Gold Cup (2200m) at Rotorua tomorrow week.


“The 1600m was a touch short and there wasn’t a lot of tempo, but he pulled up well,” trainer Chris Wood said.



Gift Of Power powering her way to victory in the Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes at Trentham in December. She will be using the Gold Trail Stakes as a stepping stone to the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton in November.



Florence Jean ran her rivals ragged when leading all the way for a 6 length win over 1000 metres at Ruakaka on July 8. She is sure to be one of the top chances in the Gold Trail Stakes.


View Article

Hastings Trackwork 19 Jul 2017

(By John Jenkins)

Zed Leppelin, preparing for the maiden hurdle race at Te Aroha on Friday, was one of only a couple of horses timed on Tuesday at Hastings track session as a dense blanket of fog covered the racecourse for most of the morning.

Fast work was confined to the plough, which provided heavy footing after Mondays overnight rain.

A penetrometer reading was taken on the course proper during the session and came up as a heavy11.

Zed Leppelin ended his work with 600 metres in 39.9. The Zed gelding shows promise as a jumper and has finished fourth in his last two hurdle starts. Hamish McNeill has been booked to ride him on Friday.

Kipkeino rounded off his preparation for Thursday’s Wellington Hurdles with a strong workout over a round. He looks a fit horse and is coming off an impressive last start win in the Hawke’s Bay Hurdles (3100m) on the Hastings track.

Bernali, another likely runner in the maiden hurdle race at Te Aroha on Friday, worked easily over three rounds on the plough while a Don Eduardo four-year-old gelding had trainer Katie Hercock aboard when running 1200 metres in 1:34.1.

View Article

HB Racing Column 14 Jul 2017

Hastings woman stormed to Wellington Steeples success 30 years ago

(By John Jenkins)

Tomorrow’s Wellington Steeplechase at Trentham holds special memories for Hastings thoroughbred trainer Sue Thompson as it was 30 years ago that she created history by becoming the first female to ride the winner of the prestigious race.

Thompson was a 26-year-old amateur jockey when she teamed up with Hastings-trained Storm to score a dramatic win in the 1987 running of the time-honoured event.

She had already made history 12 months earlier when she became the first female to win a steeplechase on Trentham’s figure-eight course, guiding The Paul Nelson-trained Storm to a 4 length victory in a B grade race over 4000m.

   Thompson built up a great affinity with the Makor gelding following that success and Nelson, who raced the horse in partnership with his wife Carol, had no hesitation in keeping her on for the major steeplechase races at the 1987 Wellington winter meeting.

Storm had only been the fourth favourite in a field of six in the Eric Riddiford Steeples on the first day. But when he and Thompson easily beat the opposition in that 4000m event they became one of the favourites for the much longer $75,000 Steel and Tube Wellington Steeples (5500m) a week later.

The opposition was a great deal tougher however, with top jumpers Lord Venture, Orca, Zeb and Seeyoulater in the field.

But it made no difference as Sue Thompson became the toast of Trentham that day after she punched Storm out to win the feature event, despite losing a stirrup iron with 400m to run.

Thompson had only one foot in her irons when Storm jumped the last fence but managed to keep her balance and extract the necessary extra effort from the horse in the run to the line to beat Sir Hugh by 4 lengths, with Lord Venture a further 3 lengths back in third place.

“It was a funny sort of a race,” Thompson recalled this week.

“With a round to go he (Storm) just took off and circled the field. I had to steady him again because I knew we still had a long way to go.

“At the third to last fence I thought I could run fourth. At the second to last I thought I could run second and then, going over the crossing at the top of the straight, I thought we could win this and so I gave him an almighty kick with my right foot and it came out of the stirrup.

“I had to ride with one leg flapping out the side after that but it didn’t matter too much because I rode pretty long anyway,” she added.

Thompson, who has also been one of New Zealand’s top equestrian riders, was 18 when she had her first race-ride. She then had a break of five years before taking it up again aged 24 and competed in her last race seven years ago.

She amassed 30 wins in total and can recall winning the Duke Of Gloucester Cup, the prestige trophy for amateur jockeys in New Zealand, four times.

One of those wins was aboard Abba Bay at Hastings in July 2000, a day she also has fond memories of.

“That day Paul and Carol Nelson won the Hawke’s Bay Hunt Centennial Steeplechase with No Fooling but they were away holidaying in the UK so I had to pick up the trophies on their behalf, as well as my own one for winning the Duke Of Gloucester Cup,” she recalled.

She had 29 rides on Storm for three wins, two seconds and seven thirds, with two of those third placings being in the 1988 Hawke’s Bay Steeples and 1988 Grand National Steeples.

Two other women have since gone on to win the Wellington Steeplechase. Michelle Hopkins was successful aboard Flash Hunter in 1997 and Tina Egan recorded back-to-back victories on Kildary King in 1998 and 1999. But Thompson will always remain the first ever female to win a prestige jumping race in New Zealand.

Nowadays she trains in partnership with husband Mick Brown and they will line up Zed Leppelin in the maiden hurdle race at tomorrow’s Wellington meeting. The Zed Gelding won two races in a row on the flat at Hastings earlier this season and has recorded two good fourths over hurdles in his last two starts.  

 Storm was a 10-year-old when he won the race and had an interesting career. He had been owned by Ken Browne in his early days and then was taken over by leading equestrian rider Harvey Wilson when Ken and Ann Browne decided to cull several horses from their large team.

Jack Tims, who had won the Wellington Steeplechase on Conkeda as an amateur jockey in 1957, then became Storm’s owner and he in turn leased the horse to Hastings couple Paul and Carol Nelson.

The Nelsons decided to exercise a right of purchase on Storm following his Wellington Steeples win but the horse never won another race. “We had the money there to buy him so we did and, although he never won again, he did run a fair few placings,” Nelson said this week.

HB weanling walk

The Hawke’s Bay/Poverty Bay branch of New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders will stage its annual weanling walk on Sunday, July 23.

The parade of weanlings will begin at 10am at Guy Lowry’s property (305 Kawera Road, Okawa) and then continue on to three other properties.

Some of the weanlings on show are by the highly successful sires Swiss Ace, Per Incanto, Reliable Man and Rip Van Winkle while other stallions represented include Shamexpress, Niagara, Charm Spirit, Bullet Train and Jakkalberry.

At the completion of the weanling walk a luncheon will be held at Off The Track Restaurant on Havelock Road, starting at 12.30pm.

For catering purposes, those intending to partake in the luncheon need to make a reservation with either Sharyn Craig at email: and mobile: 027 4999084 or Isabell Roddick at email: and phone: (06) 8798662.


Gold Trail Stakes plans

Dashing filly Florence Jean is likely to make at least one appearance at this year’s Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.

Owner-trainer John Morell was unsure before last Saturday’s outing at Ruakaka whether the daughter of Pins would be taking on the best of her age group in the new season, but he has no doubts now.

Florence Jean thumped her rivals in the Tavistock Owners’ Syndicate Two-year-old in her return to racing and the Group 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) on September 23 is now a target with the possibility of a lead-up run on the first day of the Hastings meeting, on September 2.

 “We’ll see what happens, but we will be looking at those races,” Morell said.

“It’s been hard to get a line on her at home. She’s only had a couple of run alongs and she doesn’t put in a lot, but once the blinkers are on her she is a different horse.”

Florence Jean had also won at Ruakaka on debut in January and she was then an unlucky sixth in the Group 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes.

Florence Jean was sent straight to the front at Ruakaka by regular rider Alysha Collett and the filly was coasting at the top of the straight.

“She jumped well and there wasn’t a lot of early pressure,” she said. “She was too good and had her ears pricked on the line. She’s strengthened and she’s a little professional.”

Florence Jean was out on her own at the post with 6 lengths back to Contessa Vanessa, the winner of her previous two starts.

Fresh up in Tarzino Trophy

Group 1 Thorndon Mile winner Thee Auld Floozie has returned to the Cambridge stable of trainer Stephen Marsh and is being aimed at a first-up crack at the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy on the opening day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.

“She’ll have one or two trials before that,” he said. “She might have two runs at Hastings and she may go to Melbourne after that. There are a number of good options for mares over there.”

HB race plans for stayer

 Chance To Dance is on a path toward the Group 1 races at Hastings in the spring ahead of a proposed trip to Melbourne.

“He’s put on weight and is a pleasure to have around the stables, a true gentleman,” said Stephen Autridge, who trains with Jamie Richards.

“We’ll be looking at weight-for-age events during the Hawke’s Bay carnival, and providing he’s going well, he could end up racing in Australia.”

The winner of seven races including a stakes victory in Ireland, Chance To Dance was an autumn purchase for John Galvin’s Fortuna Syndications.

Holmes put out

Expatriate New Zealand jockey Patrick Holmes will spend a lengthy period on the side-lines after returning a sample containing an undisclosed banned substance.

“After taking into account Patrick Holmes’ personal circumstances and guilty plea, stewards suspended his permit to ride in races for a period of four months. He also has to deliver a sample free of any banned substances before he can resume riding trackwork and trials,” stewards said.

Holmes’ ban started when he was stood down on June 27 and expires at midnight on October 27. He has ridden 19 winners this season, including a double at Corowa on June 13.


 Hastings-based Sue Thompson was swamped with trophies at the Hawke’s Bay Hunt race meeting on July 1, 2000. She picked up the Duke Of Gloucester Cup for her win aboard Abba Bay and also accepted the Harold Russell Memorial Challenge Cup, and another cup presented by the Omakere Hunt Supporters, on behalf of Paul and Carol Nelson whose horse No Fooling had taken out the Hawke’s Bay Hunt Centennial Steeplechase.

Sue Thompson and husband Mick Brown pictured with Zed Leppelin after one of the horse’s two wins at Hastings earlier this season. The Zed gelding will line up in the maiden hurdle race at Trentham tomorrow.

View Article

© Copyright 2017 Hawkes Bay Racing