IN Racing
In-Form Bedtime Story Tackling Group 2 Company at Trentham
John Jenkins | March 16, 2024
Bedtime Story (centre) gets up in the last couple of strides to head off No Rain Ever in a three-year-old race over 1300m at Otaki last week

A game win by Hastings-trained Bedtime Story at Otaki on Wednesday of last week confirmed a start for the filly in today’s Group 2 $175,000 Life Direct Wellington Guineas at Trentham.

The three-year-old daughter of Per Incanto is prepared by the partnership of Guy Lowry and Leah Zydenbos and took her record to three wins from only five starts when taking out a 1300m race at Otaki.

Her winning margin was a head over No Rain Ever, who is a starter in today’s Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham.

Both horses benefited over the final stages of the race when Revolt, who was also challenging for the lead, suddenly lost rider Masa Hashizume inside the last 50 metres.

Hashizume was riding his mount out vigorously and kicked his right toes out of the stirrup. This caused him to become unbalanced and he slid off the side of the horse.

Stewards, after examining Hashizume’s saddle, were satisfied the irons were in a satisfactory condition and Hashizume was uninjured and cleared to ride for the rest of the day.

It is difficult to say what difference it would have made to the outcome had Revolt not lost its rider but Bedtime Story certainly showed a great will to win, gaining the advantage over No Rain Ever right on the line.

Guy Lowry said he and Zydenbos have had the Wellington Guineas in mind for Bedtime Story since she won her second race, over 1200m on the Trentham track in December.

They have adopted a patient policy with the filly and have reaped the rewards, with her five starts resulting in three wins, a second and a third.

All three of her wins have been on rain affected tracks so her connections are hoping the Trentham track stays in the soft range for today’s 1400m feature.

She has unfortunately drawn out at barrier 12 and faces a strong field but will have the services of experienced jockey Matthew Cameron.

Bedtime Story races in the colours of her breeder Henrietta Duchess Of Bedford, who owns her in partnership with a group that includes Hawke’s Bay couple David and Jan Henderson, Hawke’s Bay Racing Board member Tim Gillespie and the estate of the late Colin Bremner, who was a former president of the Waipukurau Jockey Club.

The filly is out of the unraced Tavistock mare Happy Endings, who is a daughter of the former high-class racemare Snap.

Snap was the winner of 11 races including Group 1 victories in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m), New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m), New Zealand Oaks (2400m) and the Waikato Draught Sprint (1400m) and was the joint top three-year-old filly of her year.


Deserved success for HB owner

Hastings thoroughbred owner-breeder Chris Russell has experienced plenty of low points in recent years but things might be taking a turn for the better following his results in the past fortnight.

Russell is the breeder and co-owner of Sefton, who scored a decisive win in a $25,000 Rating 60 race over 2200m at Otaki on Wednesday of last week. He is also the breeder of Makbeel, who won a A$25,000 Rating 58 race over 1600m at Colac, in Australia, the previous Sunday.

Both horses are out the Zabeel mare Donna Jazz, who Russell bred in partnership with his brother Ken.

Donna Jazz was the winner of one race from only six starts and only left the two foals before she unfortunately died suddenly in 2020 when in-foal to Eminent.

She was out of the Redoutes Choice mare Dorotea Dior, who Chris and his brother Ken bought for $250,000 out of a 2009 Karaka sale.

Dorotea Dior was the winner of two races from the Hastings stable of Patrick Campbell before she was retired to stud, where she has produced the winners Maria Dior, Jonny Russ, O’Reilly’s Choice and Donna Beel.

But unfortunately she also died in October last year, after producing a filly foal by Vanbrugh.

It was a massive blow to Chris Russell’s thoroughbred breeding interests but fortunately, besides the Vanbrugh filly, he also has a yearling filly by Darci Brahma out of Dorotea Dior coming on.

“I have lost two of the best mares I’ve had in the last couple of years,” Russell said this week.

“It is pretty gut-wrenching when you lose the best but you have to keep going.”

“I have high hopes for Sefton. The way he runs and the times he runs tells me he has got something there.

“He had them all off the bit at the 600 at Otaki the other day and kept going right to the line.”

Russell, who races Sefton in partnership with the horse’s Hastings trainer John Bary, is adamant that the horse has to be ridden in or near the pace to produce his best.

“He led all the way when he won his first race over 2100m at Hastings last year and we have been waiting for him to be ridden like that ever since,” Russell added.

Experienced jockey Jonathan Riddell rode Sefton to win his maiden race and was again aboard at Otaki last week.

He settled the horse behind the tearaway pacemaker Stringline in what was a fast run race before moving up to join the leader approaching the home bend.

Sefton took over turning into the straight and kept up a strong run over the final stages to win by 1-3/4 lengths.

He will now back up from that win in another Rating 65 race over 2200m at Trentham today, where he has drawn barrier 10 and Jonathan Riddell again has the mount.

Russell initially raced Makbeel from John Bary’s Hastings stable with the horse recording two thirds from his first two starts before being transferred to an Australian stable.

He still owned the horse when he scored a 5-1/4 length win in a 1600m maiden race at Stoney Creek, in Victoria, in January last year but has since sold him to Pakenham trainer Reece Goodwin and he raced in his colours when he won last week.

Despite his setbacks in recent years, Russell still has a positive outlook with his thoroughbred interests.

“I think I’ve got the best crop of yearlings I’ve ever had, three fillies and two colts that look really good,” he said.

“I’ve also got a three-year-old filly by O’Reilly’s Choice out of a Savabeel mare called Flight Jazz in work with Fraser Auret and I’ve got I Am Jazz with John Bary and she has had two starts for two seconds.”


Two Kiwi chances in All-Star Mile

New Zealand will have two representatives in today’s Group 1 A$3.75million All-Star Mile at Caulfield.

Desert Lightning, from the Byerley Park stable of  Peter and Dawn Williams, and the Robbie Patterson-trained Puntura are lining up in the 1600m weight-for-age feature where they will meet a strong field headed by Australian superstar Mr Brightside.

Both New Zealand entrants have settled in well since arriving in Melbourne and their respective connections are hopeful of a good performance.

Desert Lightning has drawn barrier eight in the 12-horse field and will be ridden by regular jockey Vinnie Colgan while Pentura has drawn four and will also have the services of his regular jockey Craig Grylls.

Both horses are rated outsiders with Desert Lightning a $21 chance on the Fixed Odds market and Puntura at a quote of $51.

Desert Lightning has been a standout in his homeland this season, winning the Group 1 TAB Classic (1600m) at Trentham in December before victory in the inaugural $1million Aotearoa Classic (1600m) in January.

He backed that up with a third placing in the Group 1 Otaki-Maori Classic (1600m) last month behind La Crique and Aegon.

His races have been good,” Peter Williams said. “In his last start he got a wet track and he hated it. If he gets a reasonable track, he’ll be fine.”

It’s been nearly two decades since Williams last campaigned a horse at Caulfield, winning a three-year-old handicap with Fiscal Madness, and he is looking forward to getting back to the Melbourne track.

Robbie Patterson will also be soaking up the atmosphere at Caulfield today but admits that his Group 1 Thorndon Mile winner Puntura faces a daunting task up against Mr Brightside and company.

“He travelled over here very well and settled in super, everything is going pretty well,” Patterson said. 

“We are realistic though and if we could run midfield and pulled up sound then we would be ecstatic. It’s an opportunity we will probably never get again so we’ve got to make the most of it.”

Any easing in track conditions will certainly help Puntura, who has won six races on soft footing and two on heavy track.

Every runner in the All-Star Mille will earn prizemoney for their connections.

First prize is A$2million, with second A600,000, third A350,000 and fourth A$200,000. Those finishing fifth to eighth will earn A$100,000 while ninth to 12th receive A$50,000.


George resigning as chairman

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing chairman Cameron George is resigning from his position, effective from July 31.

George, who has served as chairman since 2020, has played a pivotal role in steering NZTR and the racing industry through various challenges and sizeable achievements. 

“My decision to step down from my role on the Board hasn’t been an easy one,” George said.

“My journey at NZTR started with navigating a path forward for the business through COVID-19 and, over time, we have managed to rebuild the industry into the strong position it now holds.”