New Zealand news briefs

Foote’s Tauranga quartet rates highly

Cambridge trainer Ben Foote will be represented by four runners at Tauranga on Wednesday and can’t single one above any other, considering them all serious winning prospects.

Rekindled Express will debut in the Cheers Tavern Bayfair Maiden (1200m) and Kid Roc will resume in the Bayleys Tauranga Commercial Maiden (1200m) with both drawing attention to their chances in lead-up trials.

Madame Le Fay runs in the NZB Pearl Series Insurance Race (1600m) while Telling Tales steps out in the EMAC Electrical (1600m), and both boast recent placed form to press their claims.

“Honestly, I think they are all pretty good chances and couldn’t split them,” Foote said.

First cab off the rank is recent Cambridge trial winner Rekindled Express, a son of Written Tycoon bred by Jonathan Munz’s GSA Bloodstock, who remains in the ownership.

“I’ve done the odd pre-trainer for GSA for Australia and this horse has had a few minor issues, they won’t stop him from racing, but stopped him from selling,” Foote said.

“He looks a pretty progressive horse and I quite like him, he’s a really good type and should go well.”

Rekindled Express will be partnered by Foote’s good friend Jonathan Riddell, who will also be aboard Kid Roc and Telling Tales, while Michael McNab retains the ride on Madame Le Fay.

Riddell is currently based in Palmerston North, having left his Cambridge residence to enable him to travel more freely during these current Alert Level restrictive times.

Kid Roc finished runner-up on debut on a Heavy 11 track at Pukekohe before the El Roca four-year-old was sent for a break.

“I thought he was a bit better than a wet-tracker, so we put him aside. I trialled him last week and he went super,” Foote said. “He’s been working with Travelling Light and impressed me and 1200m will suit him.”

Sweynesse’s son Telling Tales has placed in both outings this preparation, including a close third at Taupo at his most recent appearance.

“The other two caught him napping out wide last-start so I think he’s a pretty good chance,” Foote said.

The lightly-tried Smart Missile mare Madame Le Fay finished third when resuming at Te Aroha and the value of that performance has been subsequently emphasised.

“She got beaten by the horse (Solid Impact) trained by Catherine Cameron, who won again on Hastings on Saturday, and the runner-up Poverty Bay won at Rotorua on Sunday, so the form out of the race has stacked up well,” Foote said.

Meanwhile, the leading lights of the stable are progressing well toward future targets with last season’s Gr.3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) winner Babylon Berlin to make her seasonal debut at Riccarton on November 6.

“She will fly to Christchurch for the Pegasus Stakes (Listed, 1000m) and then come home and I’ll get her ready for the Counties Bowl (Listed, 1100m) to set her on a path to the Railway Stakes (Gr.1, 1200m),” Foote said.

Travelling Light hasn’t won a race since she claimed the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) 20 months ago, but she has placed at the elite level between times and Foote was buoyed by her recent Cambridge trial victory.

“I’m really happy with her and she stretched out like she might be back to her old self. She’s had surgery on a fetlock that the vets said had tidied up 100 percent so hopefully she’s back to how she used to be,” he said.

“She will probably run on Melbourne Cup Day at Ellerslie in the open 1400m handicap.”

The exciting Sakura Blossom is unbeaten in two starts, including a stunning effort from the Vancouver mare to win on the opening day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival, and is recovering from a minor setback.

“She could be anything. She was to have run last Saturday, but had an abscess in her foot. She could possibly go straight to the open 1200m at Te Rapa on Saturday week, otherwise we could wait another week,” Foote said. 

Flemington plans for Amarelinha

High-class four-year-old mare Amarelinha has headed to Melbourne to chase a Group One target in preference to the A$7.5 million Golden Eagle (1500m).

The Jamie Richards-trained daughter of Savabeel finished eighth in the Gr.3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) fresh-up behind Atishu and was sixth in the Gr.3 Angst Stakes (1600m) last start. 

“She’s just had no luck. She got shuffled back to last at her first run over there and then got caught three deep with no cover with the big weight last time,” Richards said.

“I thought she stuck to her guns quite well. James (McDonald, jockey) was a bit critical of his ride getting caught deep. He said she didn’t run that badly. 

“We have put her on a truck to Melbourne and she will run in the Empire Rose (Gr.1, 1600m) and more than likely she will back up in the Matriarch (Gr.2, 2000m) a week later.” 

Crowds limited for New Zealand Cup meeting

The Canterbury Jockey Club has announced that due to the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19 restrictions and the rules for operating under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, the difficult decision to restrict attendance to 2000 people a day for the New Zealand Cup Meetings has been made. 

Alert Level 2 restrictions currently apply to the Canterbury region and are likely to remain in place at the time the New Zealand Cup Meeting is held at Riccarton in early November, encompassing Saturday 6th, Wednesday 10th and Saturday 13th. 

The Club will have areas available in compliance with the COVID-19 Alert Level 2 measures for owners of horses competing at the meeting, members of the Canterbury Jockey Club, and event sponsors. 

Should demand for attendance not be exhausted by these key stakeholders, limited seated tickets may be available for sale via the Riccarton Park website.

“We know this news is disappointing and will result in a very different New Zealand Cup Meeting to what we normally enjoy, however we are committed to complying by the current restrictions imposed to ensure the health and safety of all our valued stakeholders while allowing us to continue to hold this important calendar of events, albeit in a limited capacity,” a statement from the Club read. 

“Our planning will enable attendance of 2000 people on each of the three days and is a significant reduction from the sell-out crowd of 15,000 people at last year’s New Zealand Cup Day.”

Priority attendance provisions will be in place for owners with horses in the feature races, with the Club to make direct contact with owners regarding their options when the fields are drawn.

Members will be contacted directly via email and will be required to pre-register their interest in attending The Canterbury Jockey Club New Zealand Cup Meetings by Friday 22 October 2021.

The following measures will be in place for all registered attendees of the Canterbury Jockey Club New Zealand Cup Meetings in line with New Zealand Government guidelines and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) COVID-19 Emergency Regulations:
• All attendees must be pre-registered.
• There will be no gates sales on the day.
• The Official QR Code/s must be scanned on arrival or when moving between venues.
• NZTR stakeholders will be contained in their own ‘bubble’ and will not be able to mix in other areas.
• Attendees / groups are required to stay 1 metre away from each other.
• Seated and served at the table rules apply in all hospitality areas.
• Face covings or masks must be worn by attendees, other than when eating and drinking.

Richardson hoping to realise lifelong dream

Graham Richardson has four runners entered for Matamata on Saturday, but he’s keeping just as close an eye on an Australian race three days beforehand.

Richardson is the former trainer and part-owner of Defibrillate, who will attempt to force his way into the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) when he contests the Gr.3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on Wednesday.

“You don’t get many opportunities in life for things you’ve always dreamed about,” Richardson said. 

“If he makes the field, it’s fantastic. How many people can say in their lives that they’ve had a runner in the Melbourne Cup?”

Defibrillate hasn’t met the qualifying criteria for the race, which requires either victory in a Listed race of 2300m or further or a top-three finish in a Group race of 2300m or further.

A top three effort in the Geelong Cup would not only qualify Defibrillate, it would leapfrog him above many currently qualified horses, with the seven-year-old son of Shocking currently 45th on the ballot.

A dual Listed winner last season, Defibrillate has run four times this season and at his last start finished fourth behind Delphi and The Chosen One in the Gr.2 Herbert Power Handicap (2400m) at Caulfield on October 9.

“He got a bit uptight in the gates and they put somebody up beside him and I think he half-panicked and missed the kick,” Richardson said.

“When you’re back last on the turn against horses like those it’s very hard to win so to run fourth was a big effort.”

A winner of two of his three starts for Richardson, who bred Defibrillate along with the McInteer Family Syndicate, Defibrillate has won two Listed races since being moved to Patrick Payne’s Victorian stable.

If he doesn’t get a Melbourne Cup start, the back-up race for Defibrillate is likely to be the Gr.3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) on November 6.

Back home, Richardson is hoping his three-year-old filly Bonny Lass can run well enough in Saturday’s Gr.3 Matamata Veterinary Services Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) to earn a trip to Christchurch for the Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) on November 13.

Bonny Lass won the Gr.2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) and finished third in both New Zealand’s juvenile Group One contests last season, and she finished fourth in the Gr.3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) in her three-year-old debut at Hastings on September 18.

“She was trapped wide the whole way so it was a very good run at Hastings,” said Richardson, who trains at Matamata in partnership with Rogan Norvall.

“She’s definitely improved since then and I’ve put a set of blinkers on her for Saturday. The track wasn’t too bad today given that we had a lot of rain last night, and hopefully we get a good track and a reasonable draw.”

He said it was difficult to say for certain whether Bonny Lass would get the 1600m journey of the 1000 Guineas, but her attitude and ability to grind away suggested she had a good chance of doing so.

Richardson’s other Matamata entries are Devotioninmotion in a maiden 1200m event and Light Brocade and Angelica in a Rating 74 1200m contest.

“Devotioninmotion has been first past the post twice and relegated both times and she should go well fresh,” he said.

“Angelica has been racing well but will only start if the track is wet, while Light Brocade ran well fresh and has improved since then.”