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Lowland Stakes Great Guide to the NZ Oaks 24 Feb 2017

(by John Jenkins)

Several contenders for this year’s Group 1 New Zealand Oaks are expected to line up in next Thursday’s Little Avondale Lowland Stakes, feature race at the Hawke’s Bay twilight race meeting.

The $300,000 Wellfield New Zealand Oaks (2400m) will be run at Trentham on March 18 and next week’s $70,000 2100-metre feature at Hastings has traditionally been one of the important lead up races to what is the country’s most prestigious event for three-year-old fillies.

Savaria dead-heated with Platinum Witness in the 2015 running of the Lowland Stakes and those two horses went on to finish first and second in the Oaks, with Savaria getting the decision by three-quarters of a length.

Sofia Rosa took out last year’s Lowland Stakes and was then first past the post in the New Zealand Oaks a fortnight later only to be relegated to second.

Midnight Oil won the Lowland Stakes-New Zealand Oaks double in 2011 while Keep The Peace was runner-up in the 2010 running of the Lowland on her way to winning that year’s New Zealand Oaks. Miss Mossman followed the same formline, with a second in the 2014 Lowland Stakes preceding her victory in that year’s New Zealand Oaks.

Next Thursday’s Hastings race could attract at least two of the pre-post favourites for the New Zealand Oaks with the powerful Murray Baker-Andrew Forsman stable likely to line up either Nicoletta or Bonneval while the Shaune Ritchie-trained Devise is also expected to take her place.

Bonneval is presently the $4.00 favourite on the Fixed Odds Win market for the New Zealand Oaks while Nicoletta is second favourite at $5.00 after the pair finished first and second in the Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 11.

Devise was third behind those two in that Te Rapa event and is on the third line of betting for the New Zealand Oaks at $9.00.

Another likely Oaks contender expected to contest next Thursday’s Hastings race is the promising Veearma.

The Darci Brahma filly is trained at Byerley Park by Peter and Dawn Williams and has recorded two wins and a third from only five starts. She won her maiden over 1100 metres at Ellerslie in September last year and brought up her second victory with a game long head decision against the older horses in a Rating 65 race over 2100m at Ellerslie on February 8.

Veearma was bred by Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan and is raced by them in association with the Breaking Out Syndicate.  She is out of the Encosta de Lago mare La Quinta Gold, who was a winner over 1500m in Australia.

An eight race programme is planned for next Thursday’s Hawke’s Bay twilight meeting, with the first timed for 3.12pm and the last at 7.10pm. The Lowland Stakes is expected to be one of later races so that people who work during the day can get to the course to witness the event.

The gates will open at 2pm with free admission and a $20 charge for a ticket to the Members Stand.

Forreel completes hat-trick

Hawke’s Bay-owned Forreel completed a winning hat-trick when successful in a 2000m race at Hawkesbury, in New South Wales, on Tuesday.

The four-year-old mare got up in the last stride to snatch a half-head  victory in a $A32,300 Rating 60 race following a maiden win over 1300m at Scone on January 15 and a Class 1 victory over 1600m at Mudgee on February 5.

Forreel is a four-year-old mare by Nom du Jeu out of Stareel making her a half-sister to the outstanding galloper Dundeel.

She is owned by Kayano Investments, a company managed by Havelock North’s Murray Andersen.

Former New Zealand trainer Bjorn Baker prepares Forreel from his Warwick Farm stables and rates her a promising stayer in the making. The mare began her racing career from the Cambridge stable of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and had five New Zealand starts for a second and two thirds.

Injury hits Walker again

Jockey Michael Walker has again been sidelined by back issues.

The former champion New Zealand rider, who has had a hip replacement, said initial tests indicated that was fine but he was forced to call for help when his back seized up during a race at Moonee Valley last Friday night.

Walker will undergo further tests to pinpoint the cause of the problem.

New Te Rapa manager

Brad Childs has been appointed as the new course manager for the Waikato Racing Club (WRC), based at the Te Rapa racecourse in Hamilton. Childs is the current track manager at the Awapuni racecourse in Palmerston North and will take over from Neil Treweek who is retiring after 23 years at the WRC.

Ken Rutherford, General Manager of the WRC, paid tribute to Treweek and welcomed the appointment of Childs.  “Neil has given 23 years of loyal, dedicated service to the WRC. The track has consistently rated highly and Neil’s presence at Te Rapa has been integral in maintaining the quality of our racing surface. "Brad is a young, up-and-coming race course manager who impressed with his knowledge and enthusiasm for the role. The WRC is confident the choice of Brad is a good one and we look forward to welcoming him and his family to the Waikato."
Childs will begin his duties at Te Rapa in June.

Lengthy spell for Capella

Talented mare Capella won’t race again this season.

She is on an extended break after suffering an injury when a last-start fifth in the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

“It was a slight fetlock strain and we didn’t think it was worth pushing on with her,” trainer Danica Guy said.

“She’s going to have a long break, the first one she’s really ever had. It won’t do her any harm and we’ll get her back for the spring.”

Capella showed her quality last season with victory in the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic and she also finished third in the Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic and fourth in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby.

She then crossed the Tasman and performed with credit when fifth in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes and seventh in the Group 1 ATC Oaks.

Racing back at Awapuni

Some minor distances changes have been necessary following the go ahead for the Marton Racing Club to stage its race meeting at Awapuni on Friday of next week.

Following trials held on the Awapuni track on Tuesday of last week it was agreed that racing is fit to return to the track on March 3.

This followed nine heats being run around the new alternative bend at Awapuni and previously the track had undergone testing when 20 horses participated in alternate bend practice on January 27.  All riders at the trials were complimentary of the surface, camber and circumference of the bend.

Two minor distance changes have been made for the Marton Jockey Club raceday. They are the Rating 85 1600m now 1550m and the Maiden 1600m now 1550m.

Ruakaka stable dreaming of Derby double

Wyndspelle is a confirmed Group 1 New Zealand Derby starter.

The impressive last-start Group 2 Waikato Guineas winner bypassed last Saturday’s Group 2 Avondale Guineas at Ellerslie due to the slow track conditions. He will be ridden in the Derby by Danielle Johnson,.

“He’s trained on very well since Te Rapa and he was much better off not going to the Avondale Guineas,” co-trainer Donna Logan said.

Wyndspelle’s stablemate Romancer is also likely to press on to the New Zealand Derby. He did run at Ellerslie last Saturday, but he was right out of luck and covered extra ground in the Guineas before finishing toward the back of the field.

“From the draw he was three wide for the trip – it was pretty bad, but he’s come through it well,” Logan said. “Vinnie Colgan will probably ride him in the Derby.”

Overseas targets

The Volkstok’n’barrell camp will look at all options for their star galloper after his next appearance.

“He’ll run in the Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie and then we’ll have to make a decision which direction we take – Sydney or Brisbane,” said Donna Logan, who trains in partnership with Chris Gibbs.

Volkstok’n’barrell won his fourth Group One title last time out when he was successful in the Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa.

Gingernuts into Derby

The connections of Gingernuts have made a late $30,000 payment for next month’s Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby.

“We’re going to run Gingernuts in the Derby, where he’ll be ridden by Opie Bosson,” Te Akau principal David Ellis said. “Our other runner, Beaumarchais, will be ridden by Michael McNab.”

The Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards-trained Gingernuts powered into classic calculations with his victory in last Saturday’s Group 2 Avondale Guineas, while stablemate Beaumarchais finished ninth in the same race.

Ellerslie next for McKee pair

Stephen McKee’s talented two-year-old pair of Hasahalo and Star Treasure are both making good strides toward their first Group 1 challenge, in the $200,000 Sistema Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie on March 11.

 “They had a freshen-up after the Karaka Million and I didn’t want to run either of them at Matamata so they will go straight into the Ellerslie race,” the Ardmore trainer said. “They’re both doing very well.”

Hasahalo fared the better in the Karaka Million when she came from the back of the field to finish runner-up while Star Treasure was a solid fifth.

Shocking Luck for Queensland

Shocking Luck has been sold to Hong Kong interests, but he will still be part of Te Akau Racing’s travelling party to the Queensland winter carnival.

The Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards-trained gelding, who was runner-up last time out in the Group 2 Waikato Guineas, has the Group 1 Queensland Derby as his target.

“Shocking Luck will be spelled at Te Akau Stud before he is prepared for the Queensland winter carnival,” Te Akau principal David Ellis said.

Group One winners Hall Of Fame and Heroic Valour will also be part of the Brisbane-bound team.

Veearma (number 9) stretches her neck out under the urgings of jockey Mark Du Plessis to get up and beat Sheridan by a long head in a Rating 65 race over 2100 metres at Ellerslie earlier this month. She is now likely to contest next week’s Lowland Stakes at Hastings.

Saint Kitt roars home for another timely win for Burne 3 Feb 2017

(By John Jenkins)

   Hastings trainer Kelly Burne was burning up the roads around Gisborne while her horse Saint Kitt was powering to victory in last Saturday’s $30,000 Christchurch Casino Dunedin Cup Trial in Christchurch.

   Burne owns Saint Kitt in partnership with her Perth-based son Vinnie Meenehan. She is also the president of the Hawke’s Bay Hot Rod Club and every two years Gisborne hosts a special “Hot Rod Run” on specially designated roads in the Poverty Bay area.

   Burne has owned a Hot Rod for a number of years and Saint Kitt has been helping to keep the car on the road in recent times with the horse picking up two wins, a second, a third, a fourth and a fifth from his last six starts. Those performances have earned Burne and her son $44,050 in stakemoney.

   “He (Saint Kitt) has been carrying me at the moment,” Burne said from Gisborne last Sunday.

   “With what he’s won I’ve caught up a lot on debts and it costs about as much to run a Hot Rod as it does a horse.”

   Burne said she was stressing out all day last Saturday thinking that she may not get to see Saint Kitt’s race on Trackside TV.

   “There is an itinerary that we have to follow and I was nagging all day that we had to find a TAB somewhere so that I could watch the race,” she said.

    She was able to find a country pub that had a TAB and became an instant hero after she tipped one of the locals and all her Hot Rod Club mates that Saint Kitt would win.

   Jockey Lee Callaway settled Saint Kitt in a perfect position, fifth and one off the fence, in the early stages of the 2000m event and waited until the field was well into the home straight before asking the horse for a serious effort.

   The Keeper seven-year-old quickly bounded up outside the leaders and kept up a strong run to the line to win by 1-1/4 lengths from Zhanim, with Revelator getting up late to finish third.

   Burne has transferred Saint Kitt to Pam Robson’s Riccarton stable for his South Island campaign and the pair have been in constant contact since he has been down there.

   “Pam texted me on Saturday night and said he was bucking and kicking in the paddock when she went to feed him so he’s obviously come through the race well,” Burne said.

   “The plan is to run him now in the Dunedin Gold Cup this Saturday and we will then decide what to do with him after that.

   “I had planned to bring him home and set him at the Nathans Memorial at Ellerslie on the first day of the Auckland Cup meeting but I’m tempted to leave him down there with Pam.”

   Robson only prepares a small team and swims her horses extensively, which takes the pressure off their legs. It is obviously working wonders with Saint Kitt, who has been troubled by leg injuries in the past.

   “His legs are probably the best they have been for some time,” Burne added.

   The Listed $50,000 Dunedin Gold Cup (2400m) will be one of three feature races run tomorrow’s Otago Racing Club’s meeting at Wingatui with horses placed either first, second or third in last Saturday’s Dunedin Cup Trial at Riccarton not liable for any nomination or acceptance fees for this race.

   Saint Kitt now has a record of six wins, four seconds and three thirds from 40 career starts.


Poverty Bay incentives 

    The Poverty Bay Turf Club is once again offering huge incentives to attract horses to its race meeting on Sunday, February 19.

   The owners of all horses, whether they be trained north or south of Gisborne, will receive a $400 credit providing the horse does not finish either first or second on race day and all owners will be exempt from jockey fees at the meeting, saving them $161.00 for each runner.

   There is also a trainers’ incentive with the trainer of each runner at the meeting receiving a $250 gift card and there is a $10,000 prize paid to the trainer that accumulates the most points on the day. Points will be accrued on a basis of five for a win, three for a second, two for a third and one for all other starters.

   These initiatives add up to $120,000 (based on 90 horses) in payments above the NZTR funded minimum stakes and has been welcomed by thoroughbred owners and trainers.

   The minimum stake on offer for the eight race programme is $10,000, with the feature race being a $30,000 Rating 85 event over 1600 metres. There are also three Rating 65 races carrying stakemoney of $12,000 each and a $10,000 maiden two-year-old race over 1200 metres.

   The Poverty Bay races will serve as an ideal lead up to the annual two day Wairoa Racing Club’s meeting set down for Thursday, February 23 and Sunday, February 26.


Xtravagant for Aussie stud

   Dual Group 1 winner Xtravagant is bound for a stud career in Australia.

   Te Akau principal David Ellis has confirmed the sale of the handsome son of Pentire for a seven figure sum to the Kelly family’s Newhaven Park in New South Wales.

   “He’s a really intelligent colt with a great temperament and I think he will be a terrific asset to Newhaven,” he said. “I can’t wait to go out and buy some of his yearlings.”

   Xtravagant by name and by performance, the four-year-old won six of his 12 starts for trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, including the New Zealand 2000 Guineas at Riccarton and the NRM Sprint at Te Rapa.

   “He won two Group 1 races by a total of 16 and a half-lengths and he was a group winner at 1200, 1400 and 1600 metres,” Ellis said.

   “He won the Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes in the fastest time since metrics were introduced and he won the 2000 Guineas in the fastest ever time.

   “He was New Zealand’s champion three-year-old and the highest rated three-year-old since Bonecrusher in the 1980s. He was also the second highest rated three-year-old in Australasia.”

   Ellis purchased Xtravagant, who is a son of the Zabeel mare Axiom, out of Rich Hill Stud’s Premier Sale draft to Karaka in 2014 for $375,000.

   “He was a breath-taking racehorse with phenomenal speed,” Newhaven’s John Kelly said.

   “He is a superb looking individual with a truly international pedigree that is an outcross for Australia’s Danehill line mares - we thought he was a wonderful opportunity that should not be missed.

   “He will stand for a fee of $A15,000 (plus GST), which will offer Australian breeders great value given his credentials.”


Sidelined with injury

   Group placed galloper Get That Jive will not race again this season, according to Cambridge co-trainer Murray Baker.

   Stakes placed at two, three and four, Get That Jive hasn't raced since his ninth placing in the Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m) at Pukekohe in November, having earlier run a close second in the Group 3 Spring Sprint (1400m) at Hastings.

   "He's injured and out until next season," Baker said.


Positive meeting of industry leaders

   Leaders of the country’s thoroughbred racing industry held a robust and positive meeting at Ellerslie last Sunday where they discussed the pressing need to lift financial returns to the sport.

   The meeting discussed a number of important issues including the status of race field legislation, fixed odds betting and other important strategic opportunities.

   “There was clear alignment between all present about the importance of the race field legislation currently in progress and the financial and strategic benefits of this legislation will bring the industry,” said NZRB chair Glenda Hughes.

   “We will be continuing to work with Government officials to progress this legislation, which will require overseas bookmakers to pay a fee for taking bets on New Zealand race events,” she said.

   During the meeting NZRB Chief Executive John Allen outlined his full confidence that the current NZRB management strategy will produce an additional $45 million of code distributions in 2018/19, growing to $60 million of additional funding in the 2019/20 season, from the implementation of race field legislation, automation of a world best practice fixed odds betting systems, and customer and channels improvements.

   Mr Allen and Ms Hughes heard the concerns of industry stakeholders, and recognised the need for increased industry support in the short term until the initiatives start to deliver returns to ensure the sustainability of participation and investment in New Zealand racing.

   The meeting was convened by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing chairman Doctor Alan Jackson who said it was very constructive.

   “We were pleased to hear of the willingness of the NZRB chair to continue constructive dialogue with NZTR and consider any additional options to increase racing code distributions in the short term,” said Mr Jackson.

   Ms Hughes assured the group that these issues will be discussed by the NZRB Board at their meeting on 28 March 2017.

   “Finding the best way forward that benefits the entire New Zealand racing industry is of utmost importance to all of us, and we will only be able to do this by working together and ensuring we are finding the best outcomes,” Ms Hughes said.


Saint Kitt and jockey Lee Callaway stride clear of the opposition to score a decisive 1-1/4 length win over 2000 metres at Riccarton last Saturday. The seven-year-old will now back up in tomorrow’s Listed $50,000 Dunedin Gold Cup.





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