The $100,000 Group 2 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic (1600m), the fifth leg of New Zealand Bloodstock's Filly of the Year Series, saw a great contest with Smoulder coming out on top.
Attracting a large field for the fillies feature, there were many chances as the field straightened and headed for home. However, it came down to just two as the Graeme and Mark Sanders trained Smoulder (Traditionally x Flying Firebird) and the John Sargent trained Banchee (Oratorio x Miss Jessie Jay) raced away from the pack, and it was Smoulder who produced a tough performance to hold off last season's Champion Two-Year-Old to win the Group 2 by a head.
In an amazing training feat, the Oaks Stud filly Smoulder has not been to the races since her Group 1 NZB 1000 Guineas placing in early November. She also had to overcome the wide gate of 17 to win the race. Trainers Graeme and Mark Sanders were elated with the filly's performance.
"She is a brave filly who always produces an honest effort and gives it her all.
"She has not had a lot of luck in some of her previous races, and we were concerned with her wide draw of 17, but she ran very well and showed she is a class filly."
Banchee showed some real fight in second place. Having yet to produce the type of form that saw her crowned NZ Champion Two-Year-Old last season, she was well supported on the tote and punters would have been pleased to see her produce a strong performance. Holding a nomination for the New Zealand Derby and the New Zealand Oaks, she will be one to watch in her coming races.
Annie Higgins (O'Reilly x Diva Belle) put in another good performance running a strong third in the race. She is also nominated for the New Zealand Oaks.
Smoulder's win gives her eight points in New Zealand Bloodstock's Filly of the Year Series, putting her in second place on the table behind current leader King's Rose (Redoute's Choice x Nureyev's Girl) who is sitting on 18 points.
Banchee picks up her first points in the Series with four points and Annie Higgins receives two points for her third placing.
A half-sister to Smoulder by Bachelor Duke will be offered in the 2011 Select Yearling Sale in Lot 860.
The next leg of NZB's Filly of the Year Series, the $100,000 Group 2 New Zealand Bloodstock Royal Stakes will be run on New Year's Day at Ellerslie.