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Coleman hopes roll continues at Te Rapa
09 Feb 2017

Michael Coleman has an enviable black-type strike rate this season.

While he may not feature in the top 10 in the jockeys' premiership, as far as feature events go he's riding high.

Almost a quarter of Coleman's 30 wins this term have come in stakes races, with the chance of further success at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Coleman, 47, recorded his seventh black type win for the season when successful in the Listed Wairarapa Breeders' Stakes aboard Charmont on Waitangi Day.

His major wins this term include the Gr. 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas and three other Group races, while he has also been runner-up in three Group One contests.

"I've been getting support from Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and Stephen Marsh and it's a big help to have their backing," Coleman said.

His mounts at Te Rapa include Savile Row in the Gr. 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes, Perfect Fit in the Gr. 1 NRM Sprint and Nicoletta in the Gr. 2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic.

Savile Row was runner-up in the 2000 Guineas and two starts in a fresh campaign have produced a Rating 85 win at Ellerslie and a second in the Gr. 1 Levin Classic.

Coleman committed himself to the Derby ride on Savile Row following the Ellerslie run, but he missed the Levin Classic mount through suspension.

"He's going well and the 2000 metres will be a nice step up for him," he said. "He should be very competitive."

Perfect Fit will meet a strong line-up in the NRM Sprint, but she is a quality galloper and has been Group One-placed in the Railway Stakes and the Telegraph.

"She doesn't have to improve much to get her head over the line," Coleman said.

Nicoletta warmed up for her clash with the unbeaten Volpe Veloce in the Gr. 2 Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic with a last-start win in the Gr. 3 Desert Gold Stakes.

"She is a very nice filly and still on the way up," Coleman said.

NZ Racing Desk
Golden Slipper goal for Exceed And Excel colt
31 Jan 2017

With another leading buyers’ title all but sewn up and 20 purchases already under his belt this week, Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis is now eyeing one of the few unticked boxes on his bucket list.

For more than a year Ellis has been making regular trips to Cambridge Stud to inspect a colt by Exceed And Excel out of the Group One performer Oasis Rose, with a $3.5 million pot of gold firmly in mind. He took another step towards that goal at Karaka this afternoon, buying the colt for $625,000.

“What I’ve written in my notes for this colt is two words – ‘the race’,” Ellis said. “The race I’ve always really wanted to win is the Golden Slipper, and I believe that this is that sort of colt.

“I first saw him when he was a foal at Cambridge Stud. I’ve been going back to look at him regularly since then. I’ve seen him around 10 times. He’s really impressed me all the way through. He’s absolutely thrived since he arrived at Karaka and he’s a colt with a lovely temperament.

“He’s a beautiful colt, he’s got real class and I thought he was one of the colts of the sale. He’ll be part of our stallions syndicate this year, along with a Redoute’s Choice colt we bought on the Gold Coast (out of the Woodman mare Valadon, bought for A$560,000) and one or two more to follow.”

A daughter of high-quality shuttle stallion Oasis Dream, whose progeny include the young Cambridge Stud shuttler Power, Oasis Rose was bred in Australia by Kia Ora Stud.

Cambridge Stud’s general manager Marcus Corban bought her for A$260,000 at the Inglis Sydney Easter sale, and she carried the colours of Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan to a win and three placings in a six-start career.

Oasis Rose ran second in the Listed Wentwood Grange as a two-year-old, and in November 2012 she finished second and only a head behind Sacred Falls in the Gr. 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas.

“This colt’s pedigree is outstanding,” Ellis said.

Ellis bought 14 horses yesterday for a total of more than $2.18 million, and he has shown no signs of slowing down today.

“And there’s more to come,” he vowed.

Richard Edmunds
The Informant
Trials 7 February 2017
31 Jan 2017
Australian stud career for Xtravagant
27 Jan 2017

Last season’s champion three-year-old Xtravagant has been sold and is destined for a stud career at Newhaven Park in New South Wales.

The deal between Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis and the Kelly family of Newhaven Park was completed this week and Xtravagant is expected to take up duties next spring.

Xtravagant was a surprise withdrawal from last week’s Gr. 1 Telegraph, having been the long-time favourite for the big Trentham sprint but failing to satisfy connections that he would be at peak for the race. Whether he races again for his new owners is a decision that has yet to be made.

In announcing Xtravagant’s change of ownership to The Informant, Ellis took time to reflect on the Pentire colt’s spectacular racing career balanced by some major disappointments.

“He was a horse that the Te Akau team were proud to train and own,” Ellis said. “I bought him for $370,000 as a yearling from the Karaka Premier Sale and he lived right up to our expectations from the start.

“He won his first start as a two-year-old by more than seven lengths pulling up, and then at three he won two Group One races by a combined total of more than 16 lengths.

“His win in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas was for me the thrill of a lifetime. He ran the fastest 1600 metres ever in the Riccarton classic and then he beat all-comers when he won the weight-for-age NRM Sprint at Te Rapa.”

After that win Xtravagant made his first trip to Australia, but came home empty-handed after finishing midfield in the Gr. 1 Australian Guineas. He had one further start at three, easily winning the Gr. 3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes from star southern filly First Serve.

“He raced every month at three from September to April and to think he won five times in what was a very demanding season speaks volumes for the horse himself and for his trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards,” Ellis added.

“He was recognised for his achievements when he was voted New Zealand’s champion three-year-old over an outstanding line-up that included seven other Group One winners. An international panel of handicappers rated him New Zealand’s highest rated three-year-old since Bonecrusher in the 1980s.”

Ellis concedes that Xtravagant’s career, comprising six wins from 12 starts and more than $480,000, contained its disappointments as well, but having completed his sale to Newhaven, harbours no regrets.

“At his best he was the measure of any horse around and while he provided us with some huge highs as well as some lows, you can’t have any regrets,” he said. “I selected him at Karaka as a member of a colts’ investment syndicate and in that respect he was an undoubted success.

“The other horses in that syndicate – Splurge, Rocksun and Beacon Of Hope – have all won, and Splurge, who we unfortunately had to geld, is well placed to complete a hat-trick at Trentham this weekend.”

As is his tradition for years, Elis will be in full flight ringside at next week’s National Yearling Sale, where he will bid to once again lead the buyers’ bench.

“I have another colts’ syndicate which is almost fully subscribed and after studying the catalogue and doing our inspections, I’m positive that I will be able to buy a quality bunch of young horses.

“It’s always an exciting time of year for me and everybody at Te Akau. With Xtravagant’s sale (at a reported seven-figure sum), the people who have done well out of him will be able to reinvest.”

Ellis is likewise excited at what awaits Xtravagant in his new life at stud. “The Kelly family of Newhaven Park have a fantastic reputation as breeders and I’m absolutely delighted that Xtravagant will get such a great opportunity there.

“Not only is he by a sire with a superb record with progeny winning over all distances throughout Australasia, but he’s out of a mare by the champion sire Zabeel. It’s also a huge plus that Xtravagant is completely free of Danehill blood, which is so rarely found in modern day pedigrees.

“I understand that the syndicate that the Kellys have formed contains all the big names of Australian breeding and with the entitlements I have I will definitely be supporting him as well.

“Whether he gets to race again is a decision that has yet to be made by his new owners, but if he does they have committed to leaving him with Stephen and Jamie. Whatever they decide, I wish them all the very best.”

Newhaven Park's John Kelly has confirmed that Xtravagant will take up duites at a fee of A$15,000.

"He was a breathtaking racehorse with phenomenal speed," Kelly said. "He is a superb looking individual with a truly international pedigree that is an outcross for Australia's Danehill line mares.

"He has all the attributes we look for in a stallion and we look forward to presenting him to Australian breeders this spring."

Dennis Ryan

The Informant

J Swap Contractors Ltd Matamata Breeders' Stakes Golf Tournament
26 Jan 2017
Karaka Mile to decide Heroic Valour's future targets
25 Jan 2017

Heroic Valour’s performance at Ellerslie this weekend will determine the future direction of his three-year-old career.

The Group One-winning colt has improved with his first-up run and he will strip a fitter horse for Sunday’s Listed NZB Insurance Karaka 3YO Mile.

“He worked extremely well this (Tuesday) morning and we’re pretty confident he will run very well,” Te Akau principal David Ellis said.

“We’ll decide after Sunday whether he presses on to the Derby or if we keep him to the shorter races, possibly in Melbourne.”

The Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards-trained Heroic Valour has been nominated for the Gr. 1 Australian Guineas over a mile at Flemington on March 4.

Runner-up when resuming under 60.5 kilograms earlier this month, Heroic Valour won the Diamond Stakes last season and this term he added a Group One placing to his record in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas.

His younger barn mate Melody Belle is also in fine order ahead of the sternest test of her fledgling career in Sunday’s Karaka Million.

She was a debut winner at Ruakaka in the spring and was then put aside after she finished third in the Gr. 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes behind the talented pair of Gift Of Power and Hasahalo.

On her return at Ellerslie this month, Melody Belle had little luck in the running after she began awkwardly.

“Michael McNab told me to just forget that run,” Ellis said. “She’s very well and it’s a wide open race.”

The Informant

Gerard takes leaf out of Moroney book of tricks
18 Jan 2017

Pam Gerard has gladly taken a leaf out of her senior training partner Mike Moroney’s book of tricks for preparing stayers in the countdown to the Wallaceville Estate Wellington Cup.

Last year the former South Islander took over from Chad Ormsby as resident trainer at Ballymore Stables' Matamata base. Amongst the horses that came with her appointment was 2016 Wellington Cup winner Mister Impatience, who will be having just his third race this preparation when he lines up in Saturday's Trentham two-miler.

Twelve months ago the English-bred gelding snatched a nose win over Pentathlon at close to 30-to-one odds, but after two further unplaced efforts he required surgery to remove a fetlock chip. A downside to his recuperation was the amount of weight he put on during his let-up, but after two races and an intensive training programme Gerard believes the seven-year-old might just be up to his weekend challenge.

“His first run back was over a mile and he was only getting warm as the rest of them were pulling up, then in the City of Auckland Cup it was probably a better run than it looked even though he finished a fair way back,” said Gerard.

“He’s really tidied up with that run and we’ve been able to pour the work into him since.”

Part of that training programme included a stern workout at Matamata yesterday, beginning with a warm-up and followed by two separate 1200-metre gallops on the course proper. In the first he recorded 1:23, with the last 1000m in 1:07.8 and 600m in 39.4. He was slower off the mark next time round, but he finished full of running after 1200m in 1:26.2, 1:08.1 and 39.2.

“That’s something Mike does quite a bit with his stayers and it’s certainly opened my eyes, even after the work I used to put into my jumpers,” said Gerard, whose list of credits includes the 2003 Waikato-Great Northern Hurdle double with Narousa.

“It’s the only time we’ve done it with him this preparation, but the way he got through the work looked pretty good to me.”

Her opinion was backed by work rider Michael Coleman, who will switch to Waikato Cup runner-up Snow Secret on Saturday while Sam Spratt combines again with Mister Impatience.

“That was nice work, especially the way he finished off the last part,” said Coleman, whose association with Ballymore Stables includes the 2000 Wellington Cup on Second Coming.

Dennis Ryan

The Informant

Xtravagant out of Telegraph
18 Jan 2017

Saturday’s JR & N Berkett Telegraph has been thrown wide open with the withdrawal this morning of long-time favourite Xtravagant.

The four-year-old’s managing owner David Ellis made the shock announcement to after witnessing his main gallop at Matamata, followed by discussions with trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards and stable jockey Opie Bosson.

Xtravagant was partnered by his one-win stablemate Gingernuts over 1000 metres on the plough in 1:02.2 and 35.2. While the time was respectable it wasn’t outstanding, and nor were Bosson’s comments when he came off the track.

With a waver of his hand, Bosson suggested the work was “at best fair”, prompting connections to consider the situation and make the ultimate call.

“He worked okay only, not good enough to take him down to Wellington,” Ellis said afterwards. “It’s a big call but one that we all agree on.

“We will review his future in the days ahead.”

Xtravagant’s Telegraph defection continues a frustrating season for last year’s champion three-year-old. With form headed by the Gr. 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas and NRM Sprint, big things were expected of him in Melbourne in the spring but he failed in two starts.

Brought home and freshened up with the Telegraph his designated first-up target, he resumed with an easy trial win followed by a smart gallop at Ellerslie late last month. His second in a trial at Cambridge last week was acceptable given he went down by only a head to Turn Me Loose, but the evidence of this morning’s work was a turning point.

After suspending betting immediately following Xtravagant’s withdrawal, the TAB has released an updated Telegraph market headed by Railway winner Start Wondering at $4, followed by Perfect Fit at $5, First Serve $6 and Odyssey Moon $7.

Dennis Ryan

The Informant

Guineas runner-up Savile Row out to go one better at Trentham
13 Jan 2017

Jonathan Scully already knew Kevin Hickman had a smart horse on his hands in Savile Row, and comments from co-trainer Michael Moroney this week comparing the colt to former stable star Xcellent have just confirmed it.

Scully, racing manager for Valachi Downs proprietor and Savile Row's breeder-owner Kevin Hickman, is brimming with confidence ahead of the colt’s tilt at Saturday's Gr. 1 Randwick Meats Levin Classic at Trentham. 

"It's amazing that Mike would even contemplate comparing him with Xcellent, because everyone knows how highly he rated him," Scully said. "It just confirms to us that we've got a pretty special horse on our hands.

"It's great to have a home-bred colt racing in Group One races in Kevin's colours. Hopefully after Saturday, we might have a potential stallion on our hands. We don't normally keep our colts, but there weren't enough people wanting to buy him at the sales so we brought him home."

Runner-up to Ugo Foscolo in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas, Scully believes Savile Row's edge came from his strength and maturity for his age.

"You'd think he's a four-year-old, but he's only three and that for starters always holds you in pretty good stead," Scully said.

"At Ellerslie the other day it was like he was toying with them - and that was a pretty good field of older Rating 85 gallopers. 

"We've just got to try and not get too excited until he gets his Group One, but that's not easy. His win at Ellerslie took Kevin and me by surprise. We thought it would be just a nice pipe-cleaner, but the way he won gave us goosebumps."

TAB bookmakers have the Michael Moroney and Pam Gerrard-trained Savile Row on the second line of betting for the Levin Classic at $4.80 behind the $2.90 favourite Hall Of Fame, which surprises Scully.

"He's at great odds," he said. "We've got the draw (barrier two) and Hall Of Fame is inside us too. Pam wants him ridden a little handier than he was in the 2000 Guineas."

Savile Row is the TAB's $10 equal second favourite for the Gr. 1 Vodafone New Zealand Debry at Ellerslie on March 4 with Highlad, in a market headed by Sacred Elixir at $5.

He is at $16 for the weight-for-age Gr. 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa on February 11.

NZ Racing Desk

The Informant

Perfect Fit impresses in Tauranga exhibition gallop
22 Dec 2016

Group One-winning mare Perfect Fit warmed up for the Gr. 1 Sistema Railway at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day with a bold exhibition gallop at Tauranga this afternoon.

Ridden by regular pilot Michael Coleman, the Elusive City mare ran 1000 metres in 59 seconds and clocked a rapid 33.08 for the last 600.

“She went very well, I was very happy with the work,” co-trainer Ken Kelso told “Michael was really happy as well, which is always good to hear.

“The idea was to give her a nice hitout today and I think we accomplished that. There’s a bit of time between the Counties Bowl and the Railway, and an exhibition gallop is a nice way to get some work into her and keep her ticking over without having to take her to the races or trials. We did the same thing last season before she won the Westbury Classic, so we’re following the same pattern again.

“I think we’re all on track for the Railway now. This should bring her forward nicely and have her pretty much at her peak on New Year’s Day. It’ll be important to draw a good alley, of course, but as far as the things we can control are concerned I’m very happy.”

Perfect Fit is currently rated a $7 chance for the Railway, sharing the second line of favouritism with Natuzzi and Xtravagant. Just ahead of them at $6 is Start Wondering.

Bred and part-owned by Haunui Bloodstock, Perfect Fit has had 13 starts for six wins, five placings and $273,500 in prize-money. Her wins include this year’s Gr. 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes and Gr. 2 Westbury Classic, while she resumed for this season with a close third in the Listed Counties Bowl.

Richard Edmunds

The Informant

Capella on another Group One path
21 Dec 2016

Capella has at least one top-flight feature on her summer programme.

The Rip Van Winkle mare showed she was approaching her best form again when she finished a close last-start second when resuming at Ellerslie earlier this month.

“I’m very happy with her, it was a good run and a bit of a relief really,” trainer Danica Guy said.

“It was a nice effort going forward – we’re looking at the Rich Hill Mile and maybe the Thorndon Mile and then the Herbie Dyke Stakes.

“The Herbie Dyke is her main target and a trip to Trentham for the Thorndon will depend on her next run.”

Capella enjoyed a strong three-year-old season, which saw her successful in the Gr. 2 Eight Carat Classic before she went to Sydney. She performed creditably to finish fifth and seventh in the Gr. 1 Vinery Stud Stakes and the Gr. 1 ATC Oaks respectively.

She was spelled on her return, but was then well below par in Group One appearances in the Makfi Challenge Stakes and the Windsor Park Plate during the Hawke’s Bay carnival.

“She was working well and eating well and the signs were good, but when we took her to the races there was just no petrol in the tank,” Guy said.

NZ Racing Desk

The Informant

High fives all round as Volpe Veloce wins Group III Eulogy Stakes
14 Dec 2016

Volpe Veloce gave favourite punters and her trainer a minor scare at Awapuni but in just a couple of explosive strides, she reinforced what all the hype is about.

The smart filly kept her unbeaten record intact with a one-and-a-half length win in the Group III Eulogy Stakes (1600m) on Saturday to take her record to five wins from as many starts.

Volpe Veloce highlighted an unforgettable day for Matamata trainer Graham Richardson who picked up a hat-trick of wins at Awapuni and just for good measure grabbed a fourth at Te Rapa.

"I can't even tell you if I've done it before, I'm not sure, but it's been a great day," Richardson said.

"I'm just absolutely chuffed for all the staff and all the owners and the horses themselves." 

Richardson said he could not be happier with how Volpe Veloce keeps stepping up every start.

She will need to step up again in her next start when she heads to either the Group II Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day or the Group I Levin Classic at Trentham on January 14 but class alone makes her a strong chance of retaining her unbeaten record at either venue.

"It's not a decision we can make now, we'll just have to see how she is in the next few days but it will be one or the other," Richardson said.

Richardson admitted he was a little worried as his classy filly took her time to fully let down in the $70,000 three-year-old feature on Saturday but the contest was quickly over once she knuckled down.

"She's got a very good brain on her. She relaxes beautifully and she just seems to put herself in the right places in her races," Richardson said.

A $1.40 favourite, Volpe Veloce beat home Rip Into Ghia with a further neck back to Storytime in third.

Johnathan Parkes gave the daughter of Foxwedge a perfect trip, one out and one back, and she rewarded him with their fourth consecutive win together.

The final 150m of the 1600m trip was so good, it was almost as if she had just been playing with the field.

"It was really encouraging in the fact that the way she did that it looks like she will get 2000m and possibly further," Richardson said.

Volpe Veloce also holds nominations for the New Zealand Derby (March 4) and the New Zealand Oaks (March 18).

Richardson believes she still has a bit to learn and he is confident she will be a better horse next year.

He picked up the first race of the day at Awapuni with Wildflower in a rating 65 over 1400m and Pure Lorde was successful in race four, a Dunstan Stayers Championship qualifier at rating 65 over 2100m.

Richardson's win at Te Rapa came with Los Vargas in a rating 85 over 1200m.

Matt Kermeen


Unbeaten Volpe Veloce heads Graham Richardson's powerful weekend team
09 Dec 2016

Volpe Veloce is fast capturing the attention of thoroughbred fans.

The expensive Karaka yearling is living right up to her $240,000 price tag and can justify it further in the Group III Eulogy Stakes (1600m) on Saturday at Awapuni.

Matamata trainer Graham Richardson is trying to absorb the inevitable pressure that builds each time she returns home unbeaten. 

Currently the Foxwedge 3-year-old is four from four in her short career and there's no way Richardson is taking anything for granted.

"It's always a worry and without a doubt the pressure builds a bit," he said. "But we will take it race by race just so it takes the pressure off the horse, the owners and the trainer.

"We will let the horse do the talking - saying that, she has still got a lot to learn and the biggest worry for me is that she gets there so easily when she is asked for an effort and then tends to look around a bit."

Not everything went Volpe Veloce's way in the spring, with plans to contest the 1000 Guineas (1600m) abandoned after an interrupted her lead-up.

She has won each of her starts by at least two lengths and comfortably won an age group race at Tauranga last start.

"She has thrived since. We couldn't be happier with her," Richardson said."The only query is the 1600 which she hasn't been tried at yet but I think she will get it.

 "She switches off and relaxes and is very sensible in a race and Johnathan knows her well."

Johnathan Parkes has ridden Volpe Veloce in her last three starts and is able to stick with the filly this weekend.

The rival Richardson has strong respect for is the Paul Shailer-trained Rayas who ran a bold second in the Wellington Stakes to Lincoln Blue when last tested.

Plans for Volpe Veloce beyond the Eulogy are uncertain, but provided she races well, there is a chance she will not run again until the Levin Classic at Trentham on January 14.

Established stayer Dubai Shuttle and Pure Lorde complete Richardson's Awapuni team.

"Dubai Shuffle needs to be wound into his work early while Pure Lorde goes very well," he said. "She is a lovely staying horse and I expect her to go well and justify a spot in the Dunstan Stayers' Final."

At Te Rapa he is looking for Snapshot to return to his best in the Listed Swap Contractors Sprint.

"His work has been good, he's got a good draw, the 1400 suits and the track will be spot on and Craig [Grylls] knows him well.

"If we can teach him to relax, which he is learning to do, races like the Rich Hill Mile and Thorndon will suit him."

Los Vargas also runs at Te Rapa and is a horse rated highly by her trainer.

"If she goes well on Saturday we will obviously have to look at the Railway Stakes."

Tim Ryan

Stuff News

Zabeel Classic next for Sound Proposition
06 Dec 2016

Group One winner Sound Proposition is likely to have his next start in the Gr. 1 Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

The Savabeel gelding, who won the Easter Stakes in April, resumed with a fast-finishing fourth over 1400 metres in October before tailing the field home in the Gr. 2 Tauranga Stakes on November 12.

“Michael Coleman (jockey) said he never felt comfortable in the (Dead6) track conditions that day,” co-trainer Andrew Scott said.

“It was a bit disappointing, but he came through the race really well. He’s going to run in the Zabeel Classic on Boxing Day next. We know he gets around Ellerslie nicely and he loves it there. Stepping straight up to 2000 metres is a bit tough, but he’s got that distance easily before and we think it will be no problem for him.

“He’ll be an interesting runner. He’s got a long way to bounce back from that last performance, and he still has to prove that he can step up to weight-for-age, but I’m sure he’ll be competitive at least.”

Sound Proposition will be part of what is shaping up to be a strong Ellerslie carnival team for Scott and his training partner Lance O’Sullivan.

“We’re aiming Princess Rihanna towards the Karaka Million, and she’ll run in the Eclipse Stakes on New Year’s Day,” Scott said. “That will be a valuable experience at Ellerslie ahead of the Million, and hopefully she can pick up a few more dollars of prize-money to absolutely secure her place in the field.

“She’s owned by a group of guys up in Hong Kong, including Simon Leung who is the commentator in Hong Kong for the Chinese side of things. They’re all excited by this filly and very keen to have a crack at the Million.

“She did it very well on debut down at Otaki the other day. The turn of foot she showed and the professional manner that she did it in was very encouraging. She looks like quite a natural two-year-old.

“She’s made good progress since then. She took the trip down there and back in her stride, and I think it’s been the making of her. She seems more settled now and like a real racehorse.”

Well-performed three-year-old filly Glass Slipper will also make her return to competition during the carnival.

“We’ll bring her back in the Eight Carat Classic on Boxing Day,” Scott said.

While she is still a maiden, Glass Slipper has been placed in the Gr. 3 Gold Trail Stakes, Gr. 3 Eclipse Stakes and Listed Soliloquy Stakes. She was found to have a poor post-race recovery after finishing ninth in the Gr. 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas last time out.

Richard Edmunds

The Informant

No Fuss Gus on Group One trail
05 Dec 2016

Two Group One assignments are on next year’s programme for No Fuss Gus.

The promising three-year-old has impressed in a brief career, and his last-start run for third in the Gr. 3 Wellington Stakes at Otaki provided another positive pointer for future age-group tests.

“He had a tough run and it probably didn’t help him having an 800-metre gallop after the false start,” said Nick Fairweather, racing manager for trainers Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard.

“All credit to the horse, he could have been forgiven for dropping off at the top of the straight, but he ran home really strongly.”

A son of Savabeel, No Fuss Gus has been nominated for the Gr. 1 Randwick Meats Levin Classic at Trentham on January 14 and the Gr. 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie on March 4.

“He’s come through his last race really well and he’ll probably head toward the Levin Classic and then a little break before one or two lead-up runs to the Derby,” Fairweather said.

“He’s a very relaxed horse and the way he travels in his races we don’t think he’ll have any trouble in getting over a bit more ground.”

No Fuss Gus was a debut winner at Pukekohe Park in October before he finished fourth behind the unbeaten stakes winner Volpe Veloce at Tauranga.

“We expected him to go well in his first start, but to win over 1200 metres was a bit of a surprise,” Fairweather said. “He was quite weak as a two-year-old and he has really matured now.” 

Genuine filly Hello M'Lady chases deserved win
24 Nov 2016

Well-performed maiden three-year-old Hello M’Lady is overdue to take a winning trick and she has a couple of factors in her favour when seeking that elusive victory at Otaki tomorrow.

She is used to keeping black-type company, and the mile won’t hold any fears for her either in the Gr. 3 Lucia Valentina Wellington Stakes.

“She deserves to get one and I hope it’s at Otaki,” part-owner and trainer Vicki Prendergast said.

Hello M’Lady has placed in seven of her eight starts, including a runner-up finish in the Gr. 3 Bonecrusher Stakes and a third in the Listed Wanganui Guineas, and most recently she finished fourth over 1600 metres at Ellerslie.

“She was a bit disappointing last time, but the track didn’t really suit her,” Prendergast said. “We were expecting rain and it didn’t come.

“I think she’s right back in it now and she turned in a beautiful gallop on Tuesday.”

Her connections are also keen on a Gr. 1 Wellfield New Zealand Oaks preparation for the daughter of Shocking, who they believe will have no trouble coping with middle-distances.

“We plan to race her over Christmas and the New Year so she will need a break at some stage,” Prendergast said.

“We’ll see what happens on Friday, but the problem with her is that if you give her a week off it takes two months to get the weight back off her.”

NZ Racing Desk
NZ Derby tailor-made for Moroney and Gerard's Savile Row
16 Nov 2016

The New Zealand Derby trip is expected to be tailor-made for Savile Row.

The Group I 2000 Guineas runner-up's next major target will be the Classic over 2400m at Ellerslie on March 4 following his excellent effort behind Ugo Foscolo at Riccarton.

"He's having a few days off and then he'll come back to start a Derby campaign," said Nick Fairweather, racing manager to trainers Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard.

"His owner Kevin Hickman was very keen on getting to the 2000 Guineas in his home town and you can't blame him and it turned out well.

"The horse relished the mile and the further he goes after Christmas the better he'll be. He'll go over more ground for sure."

Savile Row won at his only appearance last season and following a sixth placing in the Group III Bonecrusher Stakes he finished third in the Listed Barneswood Farm Stakes.

"We thought the Guineas may have come up a touch too soon, he's still immature and learning – he'd only had the three starts before Riccarton," Fairweather said.

"He'll have this short break and then kick off again somewhere in January. He's an exciting horse and hopefully we can make him into a stallion prospect, he's very well bred."

Savile Row is a son of Makfi and the imported Daylami mare Fleece, who won two races for Hickman from Robert Priscott's stable. 

Hall Of Fame to put Te Akau and Matt Cameron back on the honours board?
04 Nov 2016

Matt Cameron has a chance to win a second 2000 Guineas in as many years when he rides Hall Of Fame at Riccarton on Saturday.
Race Images

Matt Cameron has a chance to win a second 2000 Guineas in as many years when he rides Hall Of Fame at Riccarton on Saturday.

Team Te Akau aren't looking for anything too extravagant, a 2000 Guineas win by a nose will do.

Co-trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards line up smart colts Hall Of Fame and Heroic Valour in Saturday's Group I Sothys 2000 Guineas at Riccarton Park.

The Canterbury Jockey Club meeting kicks off the official start of Canterbury's cup week.

Autridge and Richards tasted their first Group I success of their newly formed partnership in the same race last year when Xtravagant​ was way too good from the outside gate to win by an almost unbelievable eight and a half lengths.

Leading jockey Matt Cameron, who rode Xtravagant to the flamboyant win and went on to do the Guineas double along with Autridge and Richards when Risque won the 1000 Guineas seven days later, chose to ride Hall Of Fame.

Mongolian Falcon is a $2.90 favourite with bookmakers but the money is coming for the second favourite Hall Of Fame following the barrier draw.

The Savabeel​ colt has moved in from $5.50 to $4.80 on Thursday after drawing barrier three.

Mongolian Falcon will jump from barrier four with Leith Innes aboard and Heroic Valour ($8.50) and Michael McNab will jump from barrier eight.

Richards expects the $400,000 race to be a tactical affair and even after the draw he struggles to separate the stablemates.

Cameron's decision to ride Hall Of Fame comes on the back of dominant wins in the Inglewood Stud Guineas Trial and the Listed Zacinto Stakes.

"We've always held him (Hall Of Fame) in very high regard and he's not far behind the other guy (Heroic Valour), he might even be going better than him at the moment," Richards said.

But even Richards acknowledged those two wins at Riccarton have not been against the same quality opposition as the Hawke's Bay Guineas and the James and Annie Sarten Memorial but Hall Of Fame can only win that races he is placed in and he has done that by a combined eight and a quarter lengths.

"I'm not sure on what he's been beating but what he has done is do it in very good fashion," Richards said.

Cameron is likely to be positive and use Hall Of Fame's barrier draw of three and be up on the speed.

Heroic Valour's draw is not all bad as Richards said McNab will likely be looking to settle around the middle of the 11-strong pack.

"He's still a little bit green but he has the ability," Richards said of the Fastnet Rock colt.

Richards said both Hall Of Fame and Heroic Valour worked individually on Tuesday and had impressed.

"We're very happy with both of them, we just need a bit of luck in the running."

Autridge and Richards will not have a runner in the 1000 Guineas on Saturday week.

Meanwhile, Richards said Xtravagant is back in work, following his failed Australian campaign, but no racing plan has been set at this stage.

 Matt Kermeen


Shillelagh picks up stakes placing at Flemington
03 Nov 2016

Kiwi mare Shillelagh did her connections proud on Melbourne Cup day at Flemington yesterday, finishing a close and commendable second in the Gr. 3 Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes.

Ridden by international superstar jockey Joao Moreira, the Savabeel mare was slowly away in the 1400-metre feature but recovered and surged to the front in the home straight. She was run down in the last few strides by Artistry and was beaten by half a length.

“It was a terrific run and it was great to see her pick up some black type,” co-trainer Jamie Richards said. “It was just unfortunate that she missed the kick – we haven’t had any luck with her in this Melbourne campaign.

“But Moreira gave her a peach of a ride, saving ground and pinching runs to get her into contention. She just got bombed on the line, but we were proud of her effort.

“We don’t have any other plans locked in at this stage. We’ll keep our options open, and we’ll sit down today with her owners Christopher and Susanna Grace to work out where we go from here.”

Shillelagh has now had 10 starts for five wins, two placings and more than $110,000 in prize-money.

Richard Edmunds

The Informant

McKay sticks to northern focus
28 Oct 2016

Peter McKay's focus will remain in the north after withdrawing talented three-year-old Barcelo from next week's Gr. 1 Sothys New Zealand 2000 Guineas at Riccarton.

Instead his trio of Antonio Lombardo, Amarula and Barcelo will tackle northern features in the coming weeks.

Multiple Group One performer Antonio Lombardo will cap his lead-up for the Gr. 2 Tauranga Stakes on November 12 when he contests Saturday's Chesters Plumbing and Bathroom Handicap at the same track.

"Hopefully he can win it. He likes Tauranga and it's a bit of a come-down for him, running in a $15,000 race," McKay said.

"I had looked at running him at Te Rapa last Monday, but I had Amarula in there and I thought it was best to split them. If he goes well on Saturday, he can go back to Tauranga for that weight-for-age race in a couple of weeks. He seems pretty bright."

Amarula finished second to Thee Auld Hussie at Te Rapa on Monday, beaten a length and three-quarters while giving the winner a 4.5kg advantage. He could still clash with his stablemate in the Tauranga Stakes.

"The other option I'm toying with is throwing in a nomination for the weight-for-age race at Ellerslie next Tuesday. I've been wanting to get him up to 2000 metres, but we'll just see," McKay said.

With both Amarula and Antonio Lombardo sitting in the mid-to-high 90s with their ratings, weight-for-age racing looks the most suitable option, as McKay said Antonio Lombardo had struggled to regain winning form carrying big weights in handicaps.

"He's been racing well but he's in a situation now that he's lugging a bit of weight and he's only a little horse. He's not just quite there taking on the best company and having to give the other horses weight," McKay said.

Nonetheless, Antonio Lombardo did place in the Gr. 3 Spring Sprint at Hastings earlier this month under 59.5 kilograms and six previous visits to Tauranga have yielded two wins and three placings.

McKay said Barcelo would most likely have his next start in the 1400-metre three-year-old race at Tauranga on November 12 ahead of the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial (1500m) at Ellerslie on November 26. 

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