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Glen Boss booked for Summer Passage in Caulfield Guineas
10 Oct 2017

Singapore-based jockey Glen Boss has been engaged for the mount on Kiwi colt Summer Passage in Saturday’s A$2 million Caulfield Guineas.

The ride became available on the last-start Guineas Prelude runner-up due to Mark Zahra, his rider to date at the Melbourne spring carnival, being committed to race rival Catchy on Saturday.

Best known for his Melbourne Cup hat-trick on Makybe Diva, 48-year-old Boss has ridden for the past year in Singapore, where he is fourth equal on the premiership with 43 wins. He still returns to Australia when feasible, most recently when second on the Chris Waller-trained Tom Melbourne in the Epsom Handicap the weekend before last.

“If Chris Waller is prepared to use him he must be riding well,” commented Summer Passage’s co-trainer Lance O’Sullivan when confirming the engagement. “He rang us for the ride, so we’re happy to have him on.”

Boss will stay with Tom Melbourne for Saturday's Toorak Handicap as well as landing the ride on Irish stayer Riven Light in the Caulfield Stakes. 

Summer Passage was the standout in two-year-old male ranks last season, completing a feature double in the Gr. 1 Sistema Stakes and then finishing second in the Gr. 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes at Randwick. He followed a first-up eighth placing in the Gr. 2 Danehill Stakes with a second in the Gr. 3 Guineas Prelude, earning a high rank in the entries for Saturday’s big three-year-old race.

“We’ve been on the back foot with him, mainly because of the wet spring at home, but we’re happy enough with him,” O’Sullivan said. “His first-up run was satisfactory and it was very pleasing to see him run so well last time.

“He’s come on well from each race, but the way the programme has turned out we’ve had to go two weeks by two weeks with him and I’d just like to see him carrying a few kilos more in condition.

“Still, he’s very bright and full of himself, his blood is good and we believe he’s a top five chance on Saturday. Now it’s a matter of getting a good draw and then the right run to see what he can do.”

Dennis Ryan

The Informant

Watch This Space kicks on from fresh-up win
25 Sep 2017

Watch This Space has earned a return to stakes company after maintaining the unbeaten start to his spring campaign.

Last season’s Gr. 2 Japan-New Zealand International Trophy winner returned with a first-up victory at Ruakaka and he was untroubled to add today’s L. I. Redshaw Memorial at Hastings to his record.

Trainer Wayne Hills said Watch This Space would now be returning to Hawke’s Bay on October 7 for the Gr. 3 Spring Sprint.

“He’ll run on the last day here and he’s still in the Coupland’s Bakeries Mile, but I’m not sure at this stage if we’ll go down to Christchurch. There’s other options – the Rich Hill Mile and the Thorndon Mile are nice races for him.”

Watch This Space was ridden again by champion apprentice Sam Weatherley, who had no concerns at any stage of the race after settling behind the front-runner Irish Moon.

“From the two barrier we got a beautiful run in the trail and everything panned out as I thought it would,” he said. “The leader rolled out on the turn and I was happy to cut the corner and then get out a bit wider.”

Watch This Space responded to Weatherley’s urgings to draw clear and score by a length and a half. Mighty Solomon made late ground for second and the pacemaker Irish Moon boxed on for third ahead of the topweight Amarula.

The Informant

Chance To Dance strengthens Livamol hand for Autridge and Richards
25 Sep 2017

Black-type races at Hastings and Pukekohe this weekend have seen the Te Akau training partnership of Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards form a powerful two-pronged team for the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic on Saturday week.

A day after last season’s New Zealand Derby and Rosehill Guineas winner Gingernuts finished over the top of six other individual Group One winners for a superb victory in the Windsor Park Plate at Hastings, imported Irish-bred stayer Chance To Dance made his New Zealand debut a winning one with a powerful performance in this afternoon’s $50,000 Listed Haunui Farm Karaka Classic at Pukekohe.

The 60-kilogram topweight in today’s 1600-metre feature, Chance To Dance was ridden by Opie Bosson in the colours of John Galvin’s Fortuna syndicates which were carried to a black-type treble last season by champion two-year-old Melody Belle.

Chance To Dance settled around halfway back in the 14-horse field in the early part of the race as Admiral set a solid pace in an attempt to repeat his bold front-running Karaka Classic victory of 12 months ago.

After producing a kick at the top of the straight, Admiral was swallowed up around the 250-metre mark by former Hong Kong galloper Brilliant Shine and the unheralded local gelding Waipipi Lad. Just as that pair appeared to have the finish all to themselves, Chance To Dance dived through between them and snatched a $12.50 upset win by a long head.

The win saw Chance To Dance shorten to $7 equal second favouritism with Mime and Volkstok’n’barrell for the 2040-metre Livamol Classic at Hastings on October 7. Last year’s Livamol Classic winner Willie Cazals was a fast-finishing third in the Karaka Classic in his final lead-up before his Hastings heroics.

The $2 favourite is Gingernuts, with Autridge and Richards now leaning strongly towards the Livamol in preference to a clash with Winx in the Turnbull Stakes in Melbourne.

“Chance To Dance will go to the Livamol now and Gingernuts is heading that way too, so we could have a pretty strong hand in the race,” Richards told www.theinformant.co.nz.

“Chance To Dance had a fair bit against him today, first-up over 1600 metres on a heavy track and with a big weight, and he had only had a quiet trial to prepare him. He won it very well. He’s a lovely horse and great to have around the stable.

“It’s great for the owners – John has brought in a lot of people who are new to the game. This win for them today, plus yesterday with Gingernuts, that’s what racing’s all about.”

Chance To Dance has now won eight of his 29 starts and more than $480,000 in prize-money.

Today’s win was a welcome one for Galvin and the Fortuna Chance To Dance Syndicate, who have had a roller-coaster ride since the son of Teofilo was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis at the Chairman’s Sale in Sydney just under six months ago.

He crossed the line in second place in the Sydney Cup before it was declared a no-race due to a fatal breakdown during the first lap.

“We bought him about 10 days before the first running of the Sydney Cup,” Galvin recalled. “He was a Lloyd Williams cast-off, if you like. Mark Walker recommended we take a close look at him and we decided to buy him.

“We all know what happened in the Sydney Cup, the race was abandoned, and then he ran in it again two weeks later and finished fifth.

“The plan was always to bring him back to New Zealand and race here during the spring, then perhaps campaign in Australia again after that.

“He’s won first-up before in Melbourne and he’s a class horse. He’d been working with Gingernuts and he hasn’t given him an inch in their trackwork. He was a bit vulnerable today with his weight, but he is a quality horse.

“Jamie said to me a moment ago that the bad news is that Gingernuts is now likely to go to the Livamol too. I don’t see why that’s bad news – we’re happy to take Gingernuts on.”

Richard Edmunds

The Informant

Guineas plan for Greenpark Gem
22 Sep 2017

Greenpark Gem will be a force to be reckoned with next year, but she might still rise to a more immediate Group One challenge.

The talented filly remains in the mix for November’s gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas, a race her trainers Mandy and Matt Brown claimed last year with La Diosa.

The latter also won the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes prior to her classic success, and the Browns are hoping for a repeat from Greenpark Gem this Saturday.

“She’s a big filly, 16.1 hands, so she’s got a frame to fill out and she’s probably going to be better in the autumn, but we’ll keep her ticking along,” Mandy Brown said. “You only get one chance at the Guineas and it’s on our doorstep so we’re hopeful she can make it.

“She’s always showed us a lot of ability, but she still has a way to go regarding her racing manners.”

A daughter of Highly Recommended, Greenpark Gem was a trial winner before she made a successful debut at Riccarton earlier this month.

“She was quite green in her trial and we honestly thought she would need the race day experience, although ability-wise we knew she could win,” Browne said.

“I wish I had more by Highly Recommended in the stable, she’s a gorgeous filly with a very kind nature, but she is aggressive in her work. 

“If she runs well on Saturday she will head to Ashburton next,” Brown said, referring to the Listed John Grigg Stakes (1400m) on October 21.

The Informant

Matamata two-year-old feature upgraded to Group Three
21 Sep 2017

The Matamata Racing Club received some good news last week with confirmation that one of the feature events on its annual calendar has been upgraded.

Since 1979 the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes has been New Zealand’s highest rated race for two-year-old fillies, accorded a Group Two rating and a stake of $100,000. That race is the headline act at Matamata’s February Premier meeting, while the two-year-old males do battle in the Reid & Harrison Slipper.

That race was first run in 1987 and in the years since has been won by some of the country’s best age-group performers. Star two-year-olds on the roll of honour roll include Keeninsky, Darci Brahma and Jokers Wild, the winners from 2004 to 2006, while the two most recent editions have been won by next start Group One winners Heroic Valour and Summer Passage.

The grading of all New Zealand black type races is overseen by the NZ Pattern Committee, whose task it is to evaluate the full range from Group One to Listed. The Matamata Slipper has more than held its own in the latter category, but until recently the clash with the week earlier Gr. 3 Taranaki Classic stood in the way of an upgrade.

That dates impasse has been resolved in the 2017-18 schedule, with the Taranaki Classic now being run on the first Saturday in February, and it is anticipated that the three-week gap will enhance both races, as well as the J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes.

Further to the Reid & Harrison Slipper upgrade, the Matamata Racing Club’s new summer schedule of five racedays during December, January and February has allowed for additional two-year-old opportunities ahead of the club’s big day on February 24. With an emphasis on feature two-year-old racing elsewhere through early summer, Matamata has until now missed out on valuable lead-up races to its two late February features, but with the extra dates maiden two-year-old races have been scheduled for the Matamata meetings on Friday January 12 and Friday February 2. 

Ellis honoured with Outstanding Contribution Award
11 Sep 2017

Te Akau principal David Ellis had a double celebration at tonight’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards in Auckland – one of his yearling purchases was named champion two-year-old, and then later in the evening the man himself was honoured with the Outstanding Contribution to Racing Award.

Melody Belle, who Ellis bought for $57,500 at the 2016 Premier Sale at Karaka, won the Karaka Million and the Gr. 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes before going to Brisbane and adding the Gr. 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes at Eagle Farm. Raced by one of John Galvin’s Fortuna syndicates, Melody Belle earned more than $865,000 in prize-money.

The Commands filly was a comfortable winner in this season's two-year-old category, receiving 46 votes. The runner-up, transtasman Group One performer Summer Passage, got 11.

Melody Belle is the latest in a long line of Ellis purchases to have been crowned champions of their generation, following the likes of Xtravagant, Costa Viva, Darci Brahma, Princess Coup, King’s Chapel, Warhorse, Maroofity and Singaporean award winners War Affair and Flying Fulton.

The Outstanding Contribution to Racing Award honoured Ellis’ three decades of heavy involvement in ownership and syndication, dating back to a first Group One win as an owner with Cosmetique in the 1986 Easter Handicap.

Ellis has been the leading buyer at the Karaka yearling sales every year for more than a decade with a total spend in excess of $60 million, and Te Akau has become an industry leader in racehorse syndication.

One of the biggest Te Akau success stories in recent times has been Gingernuts, a $42,500 purchase at the Ready to Run Sale who has so far earned almost $1.1 million in prize-money for a group of mostly first-time owners with victories in this year's Gr. 2 Avondale Guineas, Gr. 1 New Zealand Derby and Gr. 1 Rosehill Guineas.

Richard Edmunds

The Informant

Matamata trio all set for Hastings Group One
29 Aug 2017

Five days out from the new season’s first Group One feature, connections of the three leading Matamata-trained candidates are all satisfied with their Tarzino Trophy prospects.

Graham Richardson, co-trainer of $3 fixed odds favourite Volpe Veloce, reports that the Foxwedge mare has done everything right since her impressive fresh-up win at Te Rapa earlier this month.

“All very good with her,” said Richardson. “She’s been ticking over nicely the past couple of weeks and she should be spot-on for Saturday.

“She’s a very clean-winded horse and doesn’t need a lot of fast work, so she’ll probably have a hitout by herself in the morning. If we think it’s the right thing to do we might take her for bit of a day out at the races here on Wednesday – just for a look and a walk around, that’s all.”

Karyn McQuade couldn’t be happier with the progress Underthemoonlight has made since her win in the Gr. 2 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa nine days ago.

“It was eight weeks between runs and we expected her to take a lot of improvement out of the race – and she has,” McQuade said. “She felt great in her first piece of work after Te Rapa, so all’s sweet, we’re looking forward to the weekend.”

Underthemoonlight, who is on the third line of betting at $10, relished the heavy conditions in her Foxbridge Plate win, but McQuade remains open-minded about what she will have to contend with on the weekend.

“She doesn’t have to have a slow or heavy track, just so long as there’s some cushion underneath. Mind you, we also know she’ll cope if there’s any rain about whereas it won’t suit some of the opposition.”

Included in that category is Group One-winning mare Perfect Fit, whose co-trainer Ken Kelso is counting on a significant improvement from the track that brought her undone in the Foxbridge Plate.

“There’s no denying, it was a disappointing result, but the ground is all we can put it down to,” Kelso said. “The main thing is she came through it well, we can’t fault her, and Michael (Coleman) was happy with her work here on Saturday morning.

“All we want is a good track, so here’s hoping.”

Hastings course manager Richard Fenwick, who confirmed Dead4 reading after taking his penetrometer readings this morning, is hedging his bets on the forecast for rain on Friday and Saturday.

“It’s blowing here and there’s no sign of the rain they predicted for today,” he said. “What happens leading up to the weekend will all depend on what quarter the wind comes from.

“A south-easterly will mean rain whereas a south-westerly will be safe. It’s always hard to read the weather this time of year, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Dennis Ryn

The Informant

Hello M'Lady on a hat-trick
25 Aug 2017

Group-placed mare Hello M’Lady will be tested tomorrow when she steps up in grade against some smart horses in the ITM PSP Open Sprint at New Plymouth over 1300 metres.

The four-year-old Shocking mare is unbeaten in her current campaign, winning both of her races with ease at Rotorua. While she was impressive in those races, trainer and part-owner Vicki Prendergast is wary of the step up in class.

“They have been pretty soft fields, so they don’t tell you a whole lot,” she said. 

“We always knew she was pretty smart, she showed that last season when she placed in the stakes races (Gr. 3 Bonecrusher Stakes and Listed Wanganui Guineas).

“She just needed to get some confidence and we needed to get her out of maiden grade, so we started her in a couple of soft fields and it paid off.”

In her two wins Hello M’Lady has drawn wide, dropped back early before improving from the 600-metre mark and racing away from her opposition. She has once again drawn a wide barrier and similar tactics are likely to be adopted.

Prendergast is happy with the way her stable star has been working since her last start, but said tomorrow’s race will answer a lot of questions.

“We have been pretty soft on her the first couple of weeks after her last start," she said. “That may have been a week too long, but I didn’t want to cart her all the way down to Tauherenikau last weekend. 

“She has galloped lovely this week and I think she is just as ready as she was for her last couple of races, but she is up in a lot higher grade now so we’re really only doing it to see what we have got and see where we stand.”

The once-unwanted Hello M’Lady has quickly become a favourite in Prendergast’s Matamata stable.

“She was given to us and we tried to give her away, but no one wanted her so we pottered along with her,” she said.

“She is just really nice to have around, she’s a great little horse and is always ready to give you a cuddle. We quite like having her around otherwise we would have sold her by now, we’ve had plenty of offers.”

Already Group-placed, she could add to that tally next month with a likely run in the Gr. 3 Spring Sprint on the last day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.

“There are not many other races for her because she doesn’t have enough points for any of the earlier races,” Prendergast said. “We’ll then look at giving her a spell after that.” 

NZ Racing Desk

Matamata Racing Club 2016/17 Awards
18 Aug 2017

Matamata Racing Club 2016/17 Awards

J.W. McAnnalley Champion Sprinter/Miler: 

PERFECT FIT

D.W. Moss Champion Stayer:

WILLIE CAZALS

R.C. Blake Champion 2-Year-Old:

MELODY BELLE

 J.C. Tucker Champion 3-Year-Old:

GINGERNUTS

W.L. Tisch Champion Jumps Jockey:

REECE COLE

Lindsay Family Champion Apprentice Jockey:

SAM  WEATHERLEY

 B.R. Tims Champion Jockey:

SAMANTHA COLLETT

 D.G.M Benjamin Champion Breeder:

KEVIN HICKMAN/VALACHI DOWNS

 C.C.E. Thompson Champion Owner:

TE AKAU GINGERNUTS SYNDICATE 

 D.J. O’Sullivan Champion Trainer:

STEPHEN AUTRIDGE/JAMIE RICHARDS

 J.B. Christophers Track Rider/Stablehand:

ROB NORMAN

2016-17 Matamata Horse of the Year:

          GINGERNUTS

Weatherley rounds off big season with Rotorua hat-trick
31 Jul 2017

A hat-trick and a career-first black-type win at Rotorua today proved the perfect finale to Sam Weatherley’s championship season.

Weatherley’s winning sequence began on the Murray Baker/Andrew Forsman-trained Bowie, followed by Gentil Tonton in the Woods Contracting Taumarunui Gold Cup and completed by a six-length romp on the Kevin Myers-trained Mandalay.

Those three wins took Weatherley’s tally for the season to 67 and a clear-cut win in the apprentice jockeys’ premiership. Having ridden eight winners after beginning his apprenticeship with Lance O’Sullivan in June last year, he hasn’t looked back this season.

Ironically, Gentil Tonton was until recently trained by O’Sullivan and his partner Andrew Scott, but today was having his second start for Cambridge trainer John Bell.

“I had ridden the horse in his last couple of starts for us and I was happy when John decided to keep me on,” the 18-year-old said. “When it rained during the week I thought the ground would be perfect for him today, but then the rain stopped and it’s quite puggy.

“It wasn’t his favourite ground and he never really travelled in the run, but the solid pace up front suited him and he really dug in the last bit.

The Irish-bred son of champion European stayer Yeats took the $65,000 feature by half a length from course specialist Pump Up The Volume, who put up a big effort under 59.5 kilograms after being second-last through the middle stages.

Jochen Rindt gave his all trying for his second win in the race, leading until the challengers came and going down by just over a length. Stokers Rock fought on after being in the party on the turn to be next across the line, while the well fancied Francis Drake finished fifth after also looking likely at the top of the straight.

Gentil Tonton’s sixth win from 27starts was a windfall for John Bell, who now also owns the six-year-old.

“When I was approached to take the horse it was on the understanding that it would be for his Hong Kong owner, but then I got word that he didn’t want to continue with him. You could say I’m happy the way things have worked out.

“When he came to me I decided to change things around, take off the blinkers and tongue-tie, replace the ring bit with a snaffle and give him different work.

“He’s gradually come round and this week knowing what a clean-winded horse he is, he did minimal fast work and came to the races a happy horse.”

D Ryan

The Informant

Te Teko trial for Summer Passage
25 Jul 2017

A slight change of plan will see the Group One winner Summer Passage make a domestic appearance next month ahead of his Melbourne spring carnival campaign.

“We will be giving him a trial at Te Teko and then he’ll go to Australia after that and have a trial there before he kicks off,” said Lance O’Sullivan, who trains in partnership with Andrew Scott.

Successful in the Gr. 1 Sistema Stakes and runner-up in the Gr. 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes at Randwick, the colt is likely to resume in the Gr. 2 Danehill Stakes, a race won last year by the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Saracino, over 1200 metres on September 16.

Summer Passage’s major target is the Gr. 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington on November 4. 

Guy chases two spots in Tarzino Trophy field
25 Jul 2017

Danica Guy is facing a race against the ratings to have dual representation in the opening Group One contest of the new season.

The Matamata trainer has the capable pair of Capella and Galaxy Miss short-listed for the Gr. 1 Tarzino Trophy at Hastings, but work has to be done to get them into the final line-up.

Rising five-year-old Capella has been sparingly raced and is the winner of three of her 12 starts, including the Gr. 2 Eight Carat Classic last season and she was also fourth in the Gr. 1 New Zealand Derby.

The daughter of Rip Van Winkle has been restricted to four appearances this term and she hasn’t raced since finishing fifth in the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile.

“She’s coming up really well and she’s had her first gallop,” Guy said. “I don’t know if she will make it into the first race at Hawke’s Bay on rating points, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

“She is a really happy horse though and we’ll probably look for a nice Rating 85 race somewhere for her first-up.”

Capella currently sits on a rating of 84 with Galaxy Miss four points better.

“I gave her a couple of weeks off after her last run,” Guy said. “She’s back in work now and I may run her in an open 1200 at Te Rapa.

“We’ll see if she can get to the Foxbridge Plate and Hawke’s Bay. We would love to pinch some black type with her before she goes off to stud.”

Galaxy Miss has won six races and ran fourth at her last appearance in the Listed Tauranga Classic, her first outing at stakes level.

Spring plans confirmed for Volpe Veloce
21 Jul 2017

A spring trip to Melbourne has been ruled out for Volpe Veloce with domestic Group One success the sole focus of her upcoming campaign.

The Foxwedge filly enjoyed an outstanding three-year-old campaign with five wins from six appearances, including the Gr. 2 Eight Carat Classic, the Gr. 3 Eulogy Stakes and the Listed Karaka Mile.

Completing the full black type set will now be top priority for trainers Graham Richardson and Gavin Parker.

“She is a very, very good filly and we want to concentrate on winning a Group One here and then we may look at Sydney in the autumn,” Richardson said.

Volpe Veloce will resume in an open 1200-metre handicap at Te Rapa on August 5 as her lead in to the Gr. 1 Tarzino Trophy at Hastings on September 2

“The Foxbridge Plate is too close to Hawke’s Bay and this way there is three weeks between runs,” Richardson said. “All going well, she will go back for the Windsor Park Plate and then we’ll be looking at races like the Captain Cook Stakes and the Telegraph.”

Volpe Veloce hasn’t raced since she finished fourth, her first defeat, in the Gr. 2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic in February.

“We gave her a decent holiday and she’s really strengthened up, we’re very happy with her,” Richardson said.

To further her preparation, Volpe Veloce travelled to Taupo racecourse on Wednesday for a gallop.

“The track was between dead and slow, which was ideal,” Richardson said. “She ran an easy 1000 metres in 1:04, the last 600 in 37.5.

“Johnathan Parkes came up to ride her and he was really rapt with the filly.”

NZ Racing Desk

Gold Fever making right moves
20 Jul 2017

Matamata Breeders’ Stakes winner Gold Fever will trial next month in preparation for her three-year-old debut.

“We’re extremely pleased with her at this early stage of her preparation,” said Stephen Autridge, who trains with Jamie Richards.

“She’s a lot stronger, grown a touch and mentally she has matured for the spell, because at two she could be on the toe and a bit of a tart around the stables and at the track. 

“This time in she’s a lot better in all respects and we can only hope that it transpires into her race performances as a three-year-old.”

Autridge said Gold Fever is scheduled to trial at Te Rapa on August 15 with her first stakes assignment the Gr. 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings on September 23. 

Grylls ready for new Singapore challenge
20 Jul 2017

New Zealand jockey Craig Grylls has been well-grounded for his introduction to Singapore racing.

His father Gary rode at the old Bukit Timah course in the late 1980s and he has been one of the push factors toward this current move to a new hunting ground.

“I wasn’t born when my dad rode here, but he’s told me all about the place and has always encouraged me to strive to get more riding experience in a different racing jurisdiction, and Singapore was one of them,” Grylls told the Singapore Turf Club.

“I spent three seasons in Australia, in Queensland during the Brisbane winter carnival from 2008 to 2010. I also rode in Macau for three months and rode around eight to nine winners there.

“Singapore was on my radar after Grant Cooksley put the idea in my head a couple of years ago. I made an application last year and it was not successful, but I got accepted this time.

“I’ve also spoken to Michael Coleman about the place. He rode at the old track, but he did ride for one day at Kranji (Singapore Guineas day in 2012) and he also gave me a few pointers.”

A winner of over 700 races in 11 years of riding that began in Te Awamutu, Grylls rode trackwork at Kranji for the first time this week and will debut on raceday this weekend.  

“It’s great to be here. I arrived last Thursday and was at the races last weekend,” said Grylls, whose Swedish wife Milou will join him next month.

“I was really impressed by the racing, the track, the atmosphere. I can’t wait to get on my first rides.

“It’s not a bad start. I’ve got one on Friday night, Always A Winner for Leslie Khoo, and three rides on Sunday - Ninetysevenemperor for Leslie again, Awatere for Mark Walker and Enhancement for James Peters.”

Grylls, who has a three-month contract, has ridden 46 Group and Listed winners, eight at Group One level. His highlights include successes in the Diamond Stakes, Manawatu Sires' Produce, New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes, NRM Sprint, Wellington Cup and the Thorndon Mile.

Before leaving, Grylls sat in eighth position with 64 winners on the New Zealand jockeys’ premiership, one winner clear of 2006 Singapore champion jockey Mark du Plessis.

“Singapore is where I want to focus my career on for now. I want to ride as many winners as possible, and hopefully, I can then extend my contract, we’ll see how it goes.”  

Underthemoonlight on way the bigger things after Tauranga Classic win
26 Jun 2017

Tauranga Classic success for Underthemoonlight has prompted thoughts of bigger prizes for the daughter of El Hermano.

Karyn McQuade trains the mare at Matamata and co-owns with her husband Hamish and Cliff Solomon.

The winner of three before her $50,000 Listed win on Saturday, she was ridden by Cameron Lammas.

"She will have a break now," Hamish McQuade said after her latest success. "But I truly believe she is a Group I horse so long as she can get her toe in the ground."

Saturday's contest was run on a Heavy11 surface which McQuade maintains was not ideal.

"She's not a real wet tracker but she did it well - she won quite easily in the end."

Lammas agreed that the 5-year-old wasn't at home on the heavy track.

"She didn't handle the ground that well," he said. "I've just come out and found a nice bit of ground for her and she's done the job for me."

She did the job by three and a-half lengths from New York Minute with Meursault a further four and a-quarter lengths to southern visitor Meursault running on for third.

Her fourth win was well deserved as luck has deserted her recently.

"She's a fantastic mare," McQuade said. "She's had no luck in her last three starts."

Cambridge trainer Tony Pike couldn't win the Classic with Nomisma who finished near the rear, but there was no such problem with her half-brother Dynamic Eagle in the 3-year-old feature earlier on the card.

The interestingly named race, The Frocked Up Girls 1400 ended up being a cakewalk for the big, strapping son of Guillotine ridden by Michael McNab.

Pre-race, Pike thought the progressive type may have lacked the ringcraft of some of his opposition at just his third start.

But it didn't matter after he mastered the pacemaker Amastar and bolted to an easy win.

"He's still got a lot to learn," Pike said. "He sort of ranged up and got a bit lost for a little part of the straight but his last part of the race was very strong.

"He's going to develop into a nice horse."

McNab labelled him as a horse "going places".

"He won really well," McNab said. "But I thought you've only seen 60 per cent of him today.

"He wanted to do a lot wrong and he was quite uptight for him but it was a good effort."

Despite taking 1:31.91 for the trip, both trainer and jockey predict Dynamic Eagle will be at his best on a dead track but Pike will push on to another 3-year-old race in the meantime.

Dynamic Eagle was an $80,000 Karaka yearling purchase for Pike's stable client Colin Keane.

A three-length winner on debut at Matamata at the beginning of last month, Dynamic Eagle finished second to Irish Mist at Ellerslie during Queen's Birthday weekend.

Punters got it spot on when Art Deco won the Rating 85 over 1200m.

TAB odds-setter Stephen Hunt reported a flood of money for the Allan Sharrock-trained mare lured north from New Plymouth for the $30,000 race.

"She's been crunched in to $2.90," Hunt reported. "She took all the money."

Paul O'Sullivan trains Sha Tin quartet
20 Jun 2017

aul O’Sullivan celebrated his first four-timer in Hong Kong yesterday.

The New Zealander’s stable was in outstanding touch, with the Kiwi-bred Aeroluminance starting the winning roll at Sha Tin before Namjong Invincible, Starship and Willie Way followed suit.

“It makes such a difference when you have a good barrier,” O’Sullivan said. “All of my winners drew a gate, they had really good runs throughout and that showed at the finish.”

NZ Racing Desk

The Informant

Mark Walker racking up the winners in Singapore
19 Jun 2017

A barrage of 10 wins in the space of seven days has seen Kiwi trainer Mark Walker establish a 13-win lead in the Singapore trainers' premiership leading into this weekend's racing.

Walker, who won the Singapore premiership in 2015, now looks well placed to snare a second title there to go with the five he won in New Zealand.

"We're 13 ahead now and I'd rather be 13 ahead than that many behind, but there's still a little way to go yet," Walker said this week.

"Alwin Tan won the premiership last year. He's got a lot of local support and he won't lie down. 

"He's got a big advantage in knowing the local language too. I haven't learnt it because I haven't wanted to know what they are saying about me," Walker quipped.

While not knowing the language might be a handicap for Walker, he has quickly adapted to most other facets of training in Singapore and has developed a good knack of striking when a horse is best placed in the ratings.

"Once they have been here for a while, horses find their right grade and then it just depends on striking the right time of the season. If you get horses in the right grade at the right time, you can have a really good run and that's what happened with us," Walker said.

"Of course, it can work against you because horses can get up to higher grades and you can have a flat period. But at the moment the horses are flying, our riders are riding in great form and we've got great staff. Everything is gelling at the moment. 

"We've got a lot of horses that have won two or three races this season whereas other seasons, they might have won just one. We've just had a good, consistent run this year."

Walker has his allocated box allowance of 60 full, mainly with New Zealand-bred horses, which he prefers.

"They are the toughest and the soundest and their durability is far superior to anything that races here," Walker said.

"We have horses in Singapore sourced from all around the world, but the New Zealand-breds far perform beyond the norm. They are brought up naturally, not fed up to be too big as young horses and because of that there's not the same pressure on their joints and they are so sound.

"And they are the best value for money as well. Karaka is always the best buying. You don't have to spend the earth to get a top-class horse. You only have to look at a horse like War Affair who has been a top performer up here. Dave [Ellis, Te Akau boss] only paid $70,000 for him at Karaka."

New Zealand-bred horses have won 45 per cent of all races in Singapore this season, while War Affair, a son of O’Reilly and now in the care of fellow Kiwi trainer Bruce Marsh is on the verge of breaking the $3 million mark in prizemoney.  

One of the key aspects of Walker's success in Singapore has been getting the right systems in place and he revealed he splits the season into two halves, so as he prepares for the second half of the year, he is preparing to bring in a fresh wave of horses.

"We've got 22 horses hand-walking at the moment, fresh for the second part of the season. I've just found splitting sections of the team for certain parts of the season works really well," Walker said.

"We've been here for a while now and we know the system. Gus and Karen Clutterbuck have been with us virtually from day one up here and they know how our stable runs intimately. We've surrounded ourselves with really good staff and we've got a good bunch of owners. Everything is working really well."

Among the horses Walker is looking forward to stepping out in the coming weeks are unraced Sebring two-year-old gelding Ferocious, a Ready To Run purchase that will debut at Kranji next Friday, and Mastercraftsman five-year-old gelding Nazir, a winner of two of his last four starts.

"We always look forward to the new horses because they are the future of the barn and we've got a good opinion of Ferocious," Walker said.

"Nazir had reasonable Sydney form, but he's got up here and improved out of sight. Hopefully he's the type of horse who could end up in the Singapore Gold Cup for us later on."

Walker said there were positive signs for the future of racing in Singapore, especially with new initiatives brought by the appointment of new chief executive Chong Boo Ching.

"He's put a bit of spark back into the club," Walker said.

"Racing here had gone through a bit of a flat spot when the international races went but there are good ideas coming out of the head offices and new incentives with better prize money."

Walker was back in New Zealand last week supervising the Matamata stables, with Stephen Autridge on holiday and Jamie Richards campaigning the Te Akau team in Brisbane, and he relished the opportunity to catch up with old friends, but there was one thing he was pleased to escape.

"I'm certainly not missing those cold mornings. You don't get those in Singapore," he said. - NZ Racing Desk.

Guy testing the water with former Hong Kong galloper
14 Jun 2017

Danica Guy doesn’t yet know how much there is under the bonnet, but if looks are anything to go by she believes she might have something in the former Hong Kong galloper Kitaya.

The Irish-bred grey arrived at Guy’s Matamata stable two months ago after being retired in Hong Kong and then gifted to her. Initially Kitaya was all at sea in his new environment, but after settling into the New Zealand stable routine and trackwork, Guy is close to lining the seven-year-old up in a trial.

“He was a bit off the clock to begin with, he wouldn’t settle in his paddock and was very keen in his work, but he’s turned the corner, he’s now lovely to do anything with,” Guy said after Kitaya had got through strong work at the Matamata track this morning.

“I didn’t have much idea of what type he was, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the horse that came off the float. He’s a gorgeous individual, not just his colour, everything about him.

“He retired sound in Hong Kong and even though he didn’t perform up to expectations there, I think it was more to do with not having the right races and track conditions.”

Kitaya began his career under the name US Law in France, where he won a 1600-metre maiden two-year-old race at Longchamp before going on to win a  Group Three 1600 metres on the same track and then finish third in the Gr. 1 Criterium International de Saint-Cloud, also over 1600 metres.

High hopes were held for the son of French Derby winner Lawman as a three-year-old, but after a first-up third he failed in three Group One attempts and was sold to Hong Kong.

Kicking off in class two, he was unplaced in his first season, then finished third twice in 12 starts during the 2015-16 season and eventually found form with two class four wins over 1650 metres at Happy Valley.

“Looking at his European form he handled heavy ground, so I shouldn’t have any trouble finding conditions to suit him,” Guy said. “I’m not wanting to get ahead of myself and the first thing is to find a trial for him and take it from there.”

Powerful McKay contingent for annual assault on northern winter features
14 Jun 2017

eter McKay is once again set to take advantage of the opportunity with a strong team entered for the first weekend raceday of the Ruakaka winter season.

The Matamata trainer has made an annual tradition of heading north in quest of the feature raceday stakes on offer on the sand-based Northland track.  His contingent for Saturday’s Whangarei Racing Club meeting is headed by the classy sprinter-miler Amarula, who will making a fresh start after winning the Listed Livamol Autumn Stakes at Hastings in April.  

Other McKay stable members heading north include De Niro, Lucky’s Revenge, Barcelo and Stokers Rock.

“It’s worth making the trip up there on a Saturday at this time of year,” says McKay. “The stakes are a lot better than midweek and the traffic through Auckland isn’t the nightmare than it normally is during the week.”

Amarula, the winner of seven of his 21 starts,  brings impressive track statistics to Saturday’s open sprint, having scored a hat-trick at Ruakaka in his first preparation during the winter of 2015 and winning again there in the opening start of his campaign last spring. He looked in forward condition for his weekend assignment when hitting out boldly in training this morning.

“We’ll just stick to Ruakaka for now and see where he’s up to in the spring,” said McKay. “I’m not sure how well off he’ll be against the younger horses with Group race form when the Hawke’s Bay races come around, but that’s for later.”

Stokers Rock, the winner of five races in the South Island before being transferred north last summer, is making good progress after recovering from a suspensory ligament issue.

“He’ll run in either the open 1600 or the Rating 85 1400 with a claim,” McKay said. “It’ll depend on how the noms look as to which race he starts in.

“De Niro can start in the 85 1400 and Lucky’s Revenge and Barcelo will be against each other in the Rating 75 1400. I’ll be entering Valante at Ruakaka and Te Awamutu, so where he runs will depend on what each race looks like.

“He’s run two good races over 1600 and it’s 2000 metres at Ruakaka, which could be a good chance to step him up over ground. I’ve also got a 45-rated maiden called As Per that has gone okay in a couple of trials, but whether he makes the trip will depend on how strong the noms are.”

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