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Hawkes Bay Racing Column 27 Nov 2020

Feature black type race plans ahead for Shezzacatch

(By John Jenkins)

   Exciting Hastings-trained filly Shezzacatch made it two wins from as many starts with another impressive performance in a $25,000 three-year-old race over 1300m at Awapuni last Saturday.

   The daughter of Savabeel only got home by half a neck but the margin flattered her rivals as jockey Lisa Allpress didn’t over-tax her in the final stages once she knew she had the race won.

   Shezzacatch was also in need of the run as it was her first start for two months.

   She created a huge impression on the first day of this year’s Bostock New Zealand Spring Carnival at Hastings when, as a maiden having her first start, she upstaged several more experienced and better performed three-year-olds in the $50,000 El Roca-Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m), winning at odds if 36 to one.

   In stark contrast to that day, Shezzacatch started an odds-on favourite at Awapuni last Saturday.

   After being a shade slow to begin, the filly got back to third last in the early stages and started to over-race.

   Allpress got her to settle a lot better coming to the home turn and stuck to the inside, quickly making up several lengths on the leaders. She then angled her for a run between horses inside the last 300m and the filly dashed through to take the lead.

   Such was Shezzacatch’s lightning acceleration that she quickly put a length on the rest of the field but then two others, Love For All and Perfect Scenario, started to mount a challenge late and closed the margin significantly on the line.

   Shezzacatch is prepared at Hastings by the partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen and they were both pleased with the filly’s performance.

   “I thought her run was good,” Lowry said.

   “She had full blinkers on and probably didn’t see the other horses coming at her late. She ran through the line well when the others came up alongside her, so I thought that was quite good.

   “She will benefit a lot from the run and certainly wasn’t cranked up.”

   Shezzacatch will have her next start in the Group 3 $70,000 Eulogy Stakes (1600m) at Awapuni on December 12 and another good run then will see her aimed at the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham in January.

   “The problem will be where to run her between the Eulogy and the Levin Classic,” Lowry said.

   “There isn’t a lot of suitable races around and we may have to give her a jumpout somewhere and a trial to keep her fitness up.”

   Shezzacatch is by Savabeel out of the O’Reilly mare Elusive Nature and was bred by Cambridge-based Tony Rider, a loyal client of the Lowry/Cullen stable.

   He races the filly in partnership with Guy Lowry and his wife Brigid, along with their close friends Paul and Maree Apatu, Grant and Ali Syminton, Sam and Anna Wood and John and Diane Bongard.

   Shezzacatch’s dam Elusive Nature was unraced but is out of the Elusive City mare Elusive Dreams, who was a four race winner and is also the dam of Savvy Dreams, who only won twice but finished third in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham and recorded three Group 1 fourth placings, in the South Australian Derby (2500m) in Adelaide, Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham and Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie.

Shezzacatch responds to a hands and heels ride from jockey Lisa Allpress to stave off her rivals in a 1300m three-year-old race at Awapuni last Saturday. It was the Hastings-trained filly’s second win from as many starts.


Chasing Trentham Group 1 success

   Talented galloper Rock On Wood has two Trentham Group 1 assignments on his agenda in the coming months.

   The Redwood six-year-old, who brought up his seventh win from only 16 starts when successful in the $32,500 Bulls Country Cup (1400m) at Awapuni last Saturday, will now tackle the Group 1 $200,000 Rydges Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham next Saturday.

   Safely through that Levin trainer Leeanne Elliot will then aim the horse at the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham in January, a race he finished an unlucky fourth in last season.

   Rock On Wood was recording back-to-back wins in the John Turkington/Wai Pine Bulls Country Cup, after beating Wyndspelle by a long neck last year. He was ridden in both wins by the trainer’s son Ryan Elliot.

   Rock On Wood only got home by half a head in last Saturday’s feature race at the Rangitikei meeting but it was a game performance as he had to lump 61.5kg and was conceding second placed Weaponry seven and a half kilograms in the handicap.

   Elliot let his mount settle at the back of the five horse field and bided his time until the home straight before asking him for an effort. The horse gradually got the upper hand over his rivals and went to the line strongly.

   Rock On Wood, whose other performances last season included a third in the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa, will go into next Saturday’s Captain Cook Stakes a bit more forward than this time last year.

   “He has had two races under his belt this time in, for a second and a win, and this time last year he had just had he one, so he is a little more forward,” she said.

Trainer Leeanne Elliot leads her pride and jockey Rock On Wood away following the horse’s second consecutive win in last Saturday’s Bulls Country Cup at Awapuni.


Synthetic track gets a thumbs up      

   The Cambridge Jockey Club’s new synthetic track has received the tick of approval from jockeys and trainers alike after the first set of official trials were run on it last Tuesday.   

   Leading jockey Samantha Collett was having her second experience of riding on the track, after previously riding at jumpouts earlier this month, and heaped praise on it.

   “I think it is really fantastic,” she said. “The club can be really proud of what they have produced.

   “I was fortunate to have a few rides on it at the jumpouts prior to the trial meeting and it really impressed me then.”

   The jumpouts were conducted in inclement weather and Collett said the track handled just as well then.

   “You could feel the moisture under the horses feet but there were no inconsistencies. It seemed to ride just as well both times.”

   Collett said the track is a godsend for trainers in the region and horses will benefit a lot from trialing and racing on the surface all year-round.

   Trainers spoken to said the track is very forgiving and provides a nice even surface that can be used all year round, especially in the winter months when the turf tracks start deteriorating.

   The first race meeting on the new surface is not scheduled until May of next year.

   Collett said there wasn’t a noticeable difference in the amount of kick-back from the synthetic surface in comparison to New Zealand’s regular turf tracks and the universal consensus in the jockeys room was positive.

   New Zealand’s second synthetic track will soon start construction at the Riccarton racecourse in Christchurch, while another is mooted for the Awapuni track in Palmerston North.


Jockeys to get a pay rise

   Jockeys will receive a pay increase from February 1 next year with flat riding fees going up from $145.23 to $160.00 and jumps race riding fees moving from $197.10 to $220.00.

   In making the decision New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing considered the fact that riding fees had not been increased since August 2018 and also took into account consultation with the NZ Trainers’ Association, NZ Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners’ Federation and the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.

   The increase in riding fees is across the board, with the rider engagement fee going up to $80 from $72.61 for flat races and the rider engagement fee for jumps races going from $98.55 to $110.00. Riding fees at trials have also had minimal increases.

   Aligned to the pay increase was a reminder from NZTR to jockeys that there is an expectation that they fulfil obligations around media and communication with owners.

   “Jockeys have an important part to play in the promotion of our industry and, as such, they do need to be aware that a component of their role is to make themselves available to undertake interviews and assist in raising the profile of themselves and the industry overall,” NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry said.

   The fee increases will remain in place until the end of the 2021-22 racing season.


Cambridge stablemates favoured 

   The Cambridge training partnership of Roger James and Robert Wellwood will likely line up two of the first three favourites for the next Group 1 race of the season, next Saturday’s $200,000 Rydges Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham.

   The duo is set to contest the feature event with in-form runners Concert Hall and Hypnos with both horses rated strong chances after coming off impressive last-start wins.

   The TAB has opened a Fixed-Odds Futures market on the race with Concert Hall the present favourite at $3.50 and Hypnos on the third line of betting at $6.00. Splitting them is last Saturday’s impressive Awapuni winner Rock On Wood at $4.00.

   Concert Hall and Hypnos will go into the race with similar form lines.

   Hypnos finished runner-up when fresh up at Hastings in early October before winning the Group 3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) there on October 17 and then the Group 2 Coupland’s Mile (1600m) at Riccarton earlier this month.

   Concert Hall has also been on song, winning the Group 3 Thompson Handicap (1600m) at Trentham and Group 2 Tauranga Stakes (1600m) at her last two starts after finishing runner-up over 1400m at Ellerslie first up. 


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Hastings Trackwork 24 Nov 2020


(By John Jenkins)


   Pleasing workouts by Overstayer and Mohaka and a fast 1000m gallop by Pablo Esk were among the highlights at this morning’s Hastings track session.

   Fast work was confined to the plough which provided soft footing.

   Overstayer had co-trainer Mick Brown aboard when working in from the 1000m peg and was stretching out well over the last 800m in 52.8, the last 600 in 39. The big chestnut has not raced since finishing fifth over 2100m on the last day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival and looks to have freshened up well. He will have a jumpout at Waipukurau next Monday in preparation for a return to racing at Hastings on December 9.

   Last start Feilding Cup winner Mohaka showed she has trained on the right way since when striding out nicely in a quiet workout over 1000m, the last 800 in 55.2 and final 600 in 41.2. She will now be aimed at the Group 2 Isuzu Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa on December 12.

   Pablo Esk, entered for today’s Otaki meeting, took the time honours for the session when running a solid 1000m in 1:03.9, the last 600 in 36.6. He went a much improved race for third over 1200m at Hastings last start.

   Uncle Bro worked over a round and was timed to run the last 1200m in 1:27.9, the last 600 in 43.6. He could race next in a Rating 65 race over 1560m at Rotorua on Wednesday of next week.

   Velarde, another likely starter at Rotorua next week, was let off with an easy workout today and ran home his last 600m in 42.9. He finished fifth over 1560m at Rotorua last week where he got too far back in the running and then had trouble getting clear in the straight.

   Free Thyme ran a solo 1000m in 1:07.1, the last 600 in 40.4 and is likely to have a jumpout at Waipukurau next Monday before returning to the racetrack. His stablemate Serengeti clocked 52.6 for a solo 800m, the last 600 in 38.3.

   Bellesgirl was let off with an easy 1000m at three-quarter pace, the last 600 in 43.9 while  Blarney also worked in at three-quarter pace from the 1000m peg and was timed to run the last 400m in 27.9.

   Bellesgirl has been freshened since finishing fifth over 1600m at the end of last month while Blarney could resume from a break in a maiden 2100m race at Hastings on December 9.

   Tuigirl was keen to go a lot faster when hard held over 1000m, the last 800 in 59.6 while Hazel’s Girl ended her work with 400m in 26.1.

   An Alamosa four-year-old gelding and an Ekraar two-year-old filly worked together and came home their lasty 400m in 26.7 while a Per Incanto-Queen Aly four-year-old gelding was timed to run 800m in 56.5. He was an impressive winner at last week’s Taupo trials.

   Parenui ran an easy solo 800m in 59.4, the last 600 in 43.2 while a Savabeel-Miss Pro O’Reilly three-year-old gelding clocked 57.8 for 800m the last 600 in 42.1.A Vadamos two-year-old filly and one by Rageese worked quietly together over 800m, the last 600 in 40.6 while a Sacred Falls-Rosehip three-year-old filly in the Lowry/Cullen stable ended her work with 400m in 29.2.

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Hawkes Bay Racing Column 20 Nov 2020

King Farouk finally gets it right with Waverley win

(By John Jenkins)

   Hastings-trained King Farouk has frustrated his connections in the past but the talented five-year-old finally put it all together with a decisive maiden win at Waverley last Sunday.

   The Jimmy Choux five-year-old, trained by his co-owner James Bridge, has promised plenty but has been his own worst enemy on occasions. He was side-lined by injuries as a young horse and then ruined his chances by being slow away in three previous starts this campaign.

   The gelding finally began on terms with the rest of the field at Waverley and, after settling midfield in the early stages of the 1400m race, he started to move into a more forward position coming to the home turn.

   In-form apprentice Hazel Schofer was aboard King Farouk and angled the horse to the outside at the top of the home straight and he unleashed a powerful finish to win by three-quarters of a length.

   It was the horse’s first win from seven starts, with his best previous best placing being a second over 1200m at Awapuni in May last year.

   James Bridge bought King Farouk for $1500 from the thoroughbred auction site Gavelhouse and races him in partnership with his father John and other Hawke’s Bay friends, Danny Blair, Buck Dailey and Richard Liley.

   The horse showed immediate potential with two trial wins before a debut second over 1200m at Wanganui in May last year. But he then suffered an injury that side-lined him for 18 months.

   King Farouk resumed this season with a second in a 1000m trial at Foxton in early September and then competed in strong special condition races on all three days of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.

   He finished sixth of 12 on the first day, where he missed the start and was last on the home turn before running home strongly late.

   He then lined up over 1300m on the second day where he was again slow away before rushing around the field to dispute the pace coming to the home turn and then weakened to finish eighth of 11.

   The horse’s connections were hoping his starting manners would improve when he stepped out over 1400m on the last day at Hastings but he again gave the others a head-start as they jumped away and was well back on the home turn before running on late for eighth out of 14.

   “We knew he only had to do things right at the start and he would be hard to beat and that’s what happened at Waverley the other day,” a happy co-owner John Bridge said this week.

   King Farouk is certainly bred to win races. His sire Jimmy Choux chalked up 12 wins, five of them at Group 1 level, while his dam Keffiya had 16 starts for four wins, two seconds, two thirds and three fourths.

   John Bridge said King Farouk is likely to have his next start in a Rating 65 race over 1300m at Hastings on December 9 and his connections are hoping that he has finally learnt that he can’t give his rivals a head-start and then try and beat them.

King Farouk stretches out under the urgings of apprentice jockey Hazel Schofer to score a three-quarter length win in a maiden 1400m race at Waverley last Sunday.

John Bridge, part-owner of King Farouk, discusses the horse’s success with winning jockey Hazel Schofer after the race.


Form reversal by Miss Labasa

   Hastings-trained Miss Labasa produced a total form reversal when she led practically all the way in taking out a Rating 74 race over 1400m at Rotorua on Tuesday.

  The five-year-old mare, prepared by John Bary, was the winner of three races from 11 previous starts but had not graced the winner’s stall since taking out a 1400m three-year-old race at Awapuni in January last year.

   She was having her third start in a new campaign following a distant last of 11 runners at Hastings on September 19 and a 13th out of 14 over 1600m at Hastings a month ago.

   At Rotorua on Tuesday the mare jumped away quickly from the inside barrier and jockey Samantha Collett had her clear in front at the end of the first 200m. From there Collett dictated the pace of the race and then kicked her mount clear again rounding he home bend.

   Miss Labasa was starting to tire in the final stages but managed to hold on to win by a neck from the fast finishing Saignon, with three-quarters of a length back to third placed Valetti.

   Miss Labasa was a $30,000 purchase for her Auckland-based owner Narendra Balia from the select session at the 2017 National Yearling Sale.

   She is out of the Charge Forward mare Savoia, who is also the dam of top South Island performer Starvoia, winner of six races including the Listed Hazlett Stakes (1200m) at Wingatui.


Sir Nate back in form after absence

   Sir Nate, who promised plenty when winning four times as a young horse including one at Listed stakes level, made a long awaited return to that sort of form when successful over a middle distance at Awapuni on Friday of last week.

   The Nadeem gelding, trained on the Awapuni track by Lisa Latta, is raced by a syndicate that includes two Hawke’s Bay people, Kathryn Donoghue and Merv Dudley.

   Sir Nate won his first two starts as a two-year-old including the Listed Wellesley Stakes (1000m) at Trentham and went on to win another race as a juvenile. He was then successful in a Rating 72 race over 1600m at Trentham as a three-year-old before finishing third in the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton.

   He was unplaced when stepped up in distance in the Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) and Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) and he failed to recapture his best form last season.

   But the now five-year-old returned to his best with a game win in the $32,500 open handicap over 2100m on his home track last week.

   The horse began well from the barrier but clipped heels and dipped with a round to go when crowded by Skyphyta, who had come across from a wide draw to take the lead.

   It caused Sir Nate to fire up and he over-raced for the next 300m before jockey Kozi Asano finally got him to settle down third. He then angled him out to challenge for the lead on the home turn and the horse wore down Skyphyta in the run to the line to win by a long neck.

   The addition of blinkers to Sir Nate’s gear probably had a bearing on his improved showing and he also appreciated the reasonably firm track conditions. He certainly has the ability to go on with it now.


Home track success well received

   It has been a long time between celebration drinks for the connections of Akela Belle but the six-year-old mare finally prevailed again when taking out a $22,500 Rating 65 race over 1550m at Awapuni on Friday of last week.

   The Mastercraftsman mare was recording her third victory, the last one being in a Rating 65 race over 2100m at Hastings on January 1, 2019.

   She was having her 16th start since then when stepping out on her home track last week and had indicated another win was not far away by recording a fourth and a third in two previous starts this season.

  She had to overcome difficulties in the running to win last week and credited Palmerston North apprentice Faye Lazet with her first riding success.

   Trained at Awapuni by Lisa Latta, Akela Belle is raced on lease by a large group of people with the 16-member Hawke’s Bay Footy Boys Syndicate having a 25 per cent share.

   The syndicate is managed by Napier-based Heath Caldwell with the other members being Dave Caldwell, Leon Birnie, Perry Cotton, Stuart James, Ian Gearey, David Gearey, Richard Gearey, Mike Daly, Stu Wilson, Russell Booth, David Winson, Steve Clark, Simon Pain, Robbie Parker and Dean Johnston.

   Akela Belle is out of the Al Akbar mare Akela, who was the winner of six races up to 1400m and finished second in the Group 3 Fayette Park Stakes (1400m) at Hawera.


HB syndicate shares in Riccarton win

   Plushenko’s last to first win in a $40,000 race over 2500m at Riccarton last Saturday had six Hawke’s Bay people jumping for joy.

   The six make up The Water Bar Napier No. 2 Syndicate, which has a significant racing share in the Rock ‘N’ Pop six-year-old, who is trained at Waiuku by Grant and Tana Shaw.

   The six are Donna and Mark Carter and Morgan Cook from Napier and Irene and Graeme Downey and their son Josh from Hastings.

   Plushenko was recording his fourth win from 33 starts and his second from his last three outings, after taking out a 2100m event at Te Rapa last month. In between the two wins he had finished a creditable sixth in The Metropolitan Trophy (2500m) on the first day of the New Zealand Cup meeting at Riccarton.

   Plushenko performs best when ridden cold in the early stages of his races and experienced jockey Lisa Allpress adopted perfect tactics, letting the horse drop back to a clear last before setting him alight with 600m to run.

   Allpress managed to pick a path through the field and Plushenko ranged up to challenge for the lead inside the final 300m before surging clear late to win by half a length.


Hickey new Owners President

   Bernard Hickey is the new president of the Hawke’s Bay Racehorse Owners Association, replacing Tony Lyndon who has stood down after holding the position for more than three decades.

   The club’s annual meeting was held last Sunday with Hickey being appointed president and Hastings thoroughbred trainer Lee Somervell is the new vice-president.

   Tony Lyndon retires as president after 31 years at the helm. He has been an integral member of the Hawke’s Bay thoroughbred racing scene during that time and was awarded the Horlicks Salver several years ago in recognition of his many years of great service to the industry.



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