New Zealand news briefs

Two Illicit too good in Hastings feature sprint

Noted fresh-up performer Two Illicit provided another example of her undoubted ability when she cruised to victory in the Gr. 3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) at Hastings.

The Roger James and Robert Wellwood-trained five-year-old was having her first run since an unsuccessful two-race campaign in Queensland winter campaign and came into the race without a trial to fit her for her raceday return.

That didn’t matter to the daughter of Jimmy Choux as she settled beautifully in midfield for rider Michael McNab, before idling into contention approaching the home turn.

Once McNab had her in clear air in the home straight, Two Illicit produced an undeniable sprint that carried her past eventual runner-up Times Ticking in three huge bounds before she eased up at the post to record her sixth career victory.

McNab was full of praise for the effort, acknowledging that he was confident of the win a long way from home.

“I got on the back of every horse I wanted during the run,” McNab said.

“They really pumped it on from the 600m and I scooted up the inside and then got every split I needed to.

“Mind you, when you have horses that are going that good it does make it easy for you and in the last bit, she was having a good look around.

“We all know she is a class horse, from a top stable and I was happy to be riding her for them.”

Wellwood was also pleased to see the mare bounce back to winning form after an indifferent four-year-old season.

“If we can keep her right, she is a very talented horse who showed us that as a three-year-old,” he said.

“It’s just good to see her back in the right order and winning nicely.

“She has just had a few niggles but hopefully we have ironed those out now and we can keep her in this order as we will win some nice races with her.

Carrying the Trelawney Stud silks, Two Illicit is raced by Brent and Cherry Taylor, Faith Taylor, Jane Taylor and Scott Malcolm and was one of the leading three-year-olds of her year, winning four of her seven starts, including twice at Group Two level before finishing second to Sherwood Forest in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).

Out of the Tale Of The Cat mare, Gemini, Two Illicit has now won six of her 14 starts and over $443,000 in prizemoney and is the second Trelawney Stud bred and raced winner from the James and Wellwood stable in recent weeks after Cheaperthandivorce won fresh-up over 1600m on the second day of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown carnival earlier this month. 

Savy Yong Blonk too crisp in Livamol

A picture-perfect ride by Danielle Johnson ensured quality staying mare Savy Yong Blonk was given every opportunity to succeed at Hastings on Saturday and she duly delivered with an outstanding victory in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m).

The Jamie Richards-trained six-year-old was touted as one of the major prospects in an even field, starting the $8.30 fourth favourite after opening her spring campaign with an eye-catching late run for sixth behind Callsign Mav in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) last month.

After a disappointing second-up effort where she bombed the start over 1600m at Te Rapa, Johnson made sure that didn’t happen again as she bounced the daughter of Savabeel away nicely from barrier six, settling one out in midfield in the keenly contested early running.

Johnson had Savy Yong Blonk travelling nicely approaching the home bend and made her move to loom into contention on the back of stablemate Prise De Fer with 400m to run.

Angled the widest in the home straight, Savy Yong Blonk produced a sustained burst of speed to drive hard after Harlech, who swept to the lead inside the final furlong, heading her fellow Matamata raider in the final few bounds to capture a valuable elite-level win.

Harlech fought bravely for second with Prise De Fer battling on strongly for third ahead of Cheval Prometteur.

“It has always been the plan to head to this race, but it does dent the confidence a wee bit off the back of a below par performance that she put in at Te Rapa,” Richards said.

“You just have to take her on trust to get away from the gates cleanly, which she did today and Danielle gave her a lovely ride.

“She is off to visit Super Seth (Waikato Stud stallion) and we will then race her on and hope to pick-up another one (Group One won) if we can.

“I am absolutely thrilled she has a Group One now as she thoroughly deserves it.”

Johnson was both delighted and a little relieved to secure the victory after being narrowly beaten on two occasions earlier in the day.

“It has been a long day and I’m very glad I held on to this one,” she said.

“I kept her trotting and tried to keep her awake before the start, as she missed the kick the other day.

“I ended up getting on the back of Troy Harris (Prise De Fer), who I thought was the horse to beat and she has just been too good.

“He dragged me into the race and she is just so gutsy and really deserved the win today.”

Bred and raced by Jim and Bill Gartshore, under their Gartshore Bloodstock banner, Savy Yong Blonk has now won eight of her 27 starts and over $486,000 in prizemoney.

She becomes the 24th individual Group One winner for Waikato Stud super stallion Savabeel, the winner of the Grosvenor Award (Champion NZ Sire) for six consecutive seasons.

A sibling to Australian Group Two winner Adelaide Ace, Savy Yong Blonk is out of the Pins mare Ampin, and is also a three-quarter sister to Group One performer Strike The Stars. 

There You Go rockets to 1000 Guineas favouritism

Visiting Cambridge filly There You Go firmed into the clear favourite for next month’s Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton after dominating her rivals in the Gr.3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m) at Ashburton.

The Tony Pike-trained daughter of Niagara had turned plenty of heads when she broke her maiden status in effortless fashion over 1400m at Riccarton earlier in the month, smashing the clock in the process.

That day There You Go dominated proceedings from in front and jockey Kozzi Asano was keen to employ similar tactics again on Saturday.

After absorbing pressure from Hyspec and The Radiant One, There You Go eventually found the front turning from home and after being challenged by the well-fancied pair of I Wish I Win and Art Cadeau, There You Go found another gear as she extended her margin to go to the line a comfortable two-length winner.

Pike, who was stuck back in Cambridge given the Level 3 status of that part of the Waikato region, was delighted to see his charge take a step up in her current campaign.

“Nothing really went right for her today and she still got the job done in good fashion, so I’m delighted with her,” Pike said.

“We’ve always thought she was very good, as she is a beautiful, big strong filly with a massive action.

“She had to step up a few classes today and did it nicely and I think she will be even better when she gets back to the bigger, roomier track at Riccarton, so it is very exciting.”

TAB Bookmakers reacted quickly to the victory with There You Go now rated the $3 favourite for the New Zealand 1000 Guineas ahead of Art De Triomphe at $5.50.

That now leaves Pike with both the favourite for the 1000 Guineas and the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) a week earlier with stablemate Field Of Gold rated a $6 chance in that race by the TAB.

“We’ve gone close to taking out the Group One double at Riccarton with Sacred Falls winning the 2000 Guineas in 2012 and Waterford getting beaten in the 1000 Guineas by a nose,” Pike said.

“It would be nice to pull that off, but just having competitive runners in those types of races is a big thing.

“Field Of Gold will have his final lead-up in the War Decree Stakes (Gr.3, 1600m) at Riccarton next weekend and he will be ready to run a big race.”

Bred and raced by Australian Steve Bruhn, There You Go is out of the seven-race winning Not A Single Doubt mare, Not A Dancer and is from the extended family of Gr.3 Cuddle Stakes (1400m) winner Elegance.

Pike added a second win to his tally for the day when Tellall took out the last race at Hastings.