New Zealand news briefs

Triple threat for Bradbury in Derby

Bradbury Park principals Casey and Michelle Dando are fizzing ahead of the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on Sunday.

The Matamata Farm is set to have three graduates contest the $1 million classic, including Tokorangi, Il Affare, and Grip.

The farm has its biggest connection with Tokorangi, with the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) winner having been bred by Casey Dando in partnership with his mother Glenice, who still retains a share in the filly.

“Casey and I own Bradbury Park and he has bred the mare, Agent Ziva, with his mum, Glenice Dando,” Michelle Dando said. 

“We used the Bradbury Park Redwood share nomination to send the mare, which resulted in Tokorangi.

“She was foaled and raised at Bradbury Park, and we sold her at the Karaka Yearling Sales and Casey’s mum retained a share in her.”

Tokorangi was purchased for $30,000 out of the Book 2 session of New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2019 National Yearling Sale by Paul Moroney and Ballymore Stables, and is trained by Michael Moroney in partnership with Pam Gerard at Matamata.

Dando said it is a proud moment being associated with one of the leading contenders for the Derby.

“It is awesome,” she said. “Even though my name is not on any of the paperwork, it’s just Casey and his mum, I am just as proud.

“It’s just like your children are going to their first major sports day. You follow them with great passion and it’s pretty cool.”

The farm’s second Derby contender, Grip, was also sold through New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2019 National Yearling Sale, with Paul Moroney and Ballymore Stables going to $100,000 to secure him out of Bradbury Park’s Book 1 draft.

“Grip was purchased with associates of ours in Australia and came back to us and sold through the Bradbury Park draft,” Dando said.

“He is a beautiful horse. Casey saw him in Australia and spoke with the other investors and said he would be rapt to bring him back here and sell him through our draft.”

While Dando will be cheering for Tokorangi and Grip on Sunday, she said Il Affare holds a special place in her heart and she will be over the moon if she gets up to win on Sunday.

The Peter and Dawn Williams-trained filly had a rough start to life, and Dando and other members of the Bradbury Park team spent countless hours nursing her back to health as a foal.

“She is an amazing girl,” Dando said. “She got sick as a foal and we nursed her back to health. Her determination has got her to where she is. She is one tough horse.

“We have spent a lot of time with her emotionally, we have a huge link with her. She has the kindest nature and she is mentally tough enough.

“We had her through to going off to the breakers, so she never made it to the sales, they ended up retaining her.

“She is owned by Greg Tomlinson, of Nearco Stud, he is a big supporter of Bradbury Park’s and a very close associate of the farm. We are absolutely delighted for him.

“If she can do it I will probably burst into tears. It would make my day if all three could do it in some form, but if Il Affare comes in I will open up a bottle of Champagne and be so proud of that girl’s efforts.”

A win on Sunday would cap a great six months for Bradbury Park, who also sold Gr.1 VRC Derby (2500m) winner Johnny Get Angry. 

Tokorangi, picture Race Images

Nothing “Soft” about Aegon

Australian punters pouring over the New Zealand form of Gr.1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) favourite Aegon could easily be led down the garden path believing the talented three-year-old is a rain-affected galloper as he prepares to face a Good 4 Randwick surface.

While, for all intents and purposes, the two neighbouring countries share similar rules of racing, track readings is not one of those areas.

New Zealand racing will refer to ground as Fast, Good, Dead, Slow or Heavy, while in Australia there are four terms used —Firm, Good, Soft, Heavy. 

Aegon’s New Zealand form reads three wins on Dead ground and one on Slow ground from four starts. 

When converted by Racing Australia, all of his wins were deemed on Soft ground, in addition to his Gr.2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) success on Soft ground. 

Highly-decorated jockey Leith Innes, who has ridden Group One winners on both sides of the Tasman, partnered Aegon in three of his four New Zealand starts. 

“There is no way that it was Soft ground in either of his past two starts,” Innes said. 

“At Christchurch (when winning the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas), he ran home in a tick over 33 seconds. 

“My belief is he is actually better on a firm track and both of his wins at Christchurch and Ellerslie were on good tracks.”

Meanwhile, Innes has a nice ride in Sunday’s Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m), where he is set to partner the Stephen Marsh-trained Milford ($9.50), who finished fifth in the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) won by Rocket Spade. 

“Milford is going really well and has blinkers on. He has definitely improved from his last run where he was a little bit in tight quarters in a funny run race with a loose horse.

“Everybody was sitting back and trying to work out where to go. He is going really well and I think he is a good chance.” 

Relieved Williams hopes for local Derby win

Byerley Park trainer Peter Williams was a relieved man when the news came through that Ellerslie would play host to the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) meeting on Sunday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Friday afternoon that Auckland will move out of lockdown and drop to level 2 from Sunday at 6am, after five days of zero cases of COVID-19 community transmission. The rest of the country will move to level one.

Williams, who trains in partnership with wife Dawn, has a team of six runners entered for the Ellerslie meeting, but was dismayed at the back-up option of running the meeting at Hawke’s Bay, 420kms away from his South Auckland base, in the event Auckland did not go down a level. 

“It would have affected us a lot if they had moved the race meeting to Hawke’s Bay,” Williams said. 

“I feel that the Auckland trainers have been left out of it quite badly. Nobody has thought about the Auckland trainers one bit. 

“It would have made it very awkward for us. We would have to have gone the day before. Cambridge and Matamata trainers can go down the day of, but we are a bit far away. It was going to be chaos.”

With the stress of venue issues out of the way, Williams is pleased with quality filly Il Affare, one of two members of the fairer sex that will take on the boys in the Derby on Sunday. 

The daughter of Dundeel finished sixth in the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) when put into the race earlier than usual and Williams believes his filly can turn the tables on those that finished in front of her last start. 

“I think she can turn the tables,” he said. “She has worked well since and we probably rode her a bit upside down in the Guineas. 

“This time she will be ridden a bit more patiently. I don’t blame Johnathan (Parkes, jockey) one little bit. It was just the way we decided to ride her but I am happy with her going into the race.”

The Williams will also have another Classic-bound filly in Slave To Love contesting the Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m), with the daughter of Savabeel a different physical specimen to her stablemate.   

“They’re two different types of fillies. Slave To Love is quite a light filly and has been a slow maturing horse that is getting there bit by bit. We are happy with her,” Williams said. 

Slave To Love finished second behind high-class filly Amarelinha in the Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (2000m) last start and has the ominous task of taking on that rival again. 

“She (Amarelinha) was very good, but all horses can be beaten. We have just got to hope that the favourite is not on her game on Sunday,” Williams said. 

“We are happy with our filly and if we are not giving her too much of a head-start turning for home we are a chance.”

The Group One trainers are looking to get the day off to a good start, with All Paid Up ($6) a good chance in the second event on the Ellerslie card, the Stella Artois 1400m. 

“I am happy with All Paid Up. He has done very well,” Williams said.