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Promising filly resumes at Tauranga

By Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Cornelia made a bright start to her career with a pair of impressive performances during the summer, and the talented filly will add interest to the early part of Saturday’s Tauranga meeting when she resumes in the Gartshore Construction 3YO (1300m).

Trained by Simon and Katrina Alexander at Te Awamutu, Cornelia scored a three-length trial win on her home track before heading to Taupo for her raceday debut on December 30. She produced more of the same over 1100m that day, kicking clear for a commanding victory by two and a quarter lengths.

Cornelia’s only other start came at Pukekohe on January 21, where she covered plenty of ground from her outside gate but fought hard down the straight for a gallant third.

The Alexanders took Cornelia back to the trials at Waipa on May 30, where she finished second in an open 850m heat.

Katrina Alexander has been pleased with the Swiss Ace filly’s progress and expects her to cope with Saturday’s heavy track conditions. However, the three-week gap between her trial and her raceday return could leave her vulnerable.

“She’s certainly better than average and ran a couple of very nice races in that first preparation,” Alexander said. “She showed some real grit in those performances as well.

“The long gap between her trial and this race is a bit of a worry for me, and particularly going into a 1300m race first-up. It may not sound like a big difference, but I’d be more comfortable if it was 1200m.

“She’s going to take natural improvement from this run, but we’ve got to get her up and going. She’s just had a few little niggles that we’ve had to get on top of, but I think we’ve got those sorted now and she’s on the right track.

“This is a good chance to run her in three-year-old company, rather than having to go up against older horses.

“She’s shown us in her work at home that she can handle wet ground. I think the soft range is probably where she’s most comfortable, perhaps out to about a Heavy8, so I’m pleased that it’s improved slightly after being a 10 earlier in the week.”

Saturday’s Flying Mullet Sports Bar (1200m) marks the return of Musigny Lass to the Alexander stable. The three-race winner is making her first start since September of 2022.

“We had her when she kicked off her career as a two-year-old, and then she went over to Ben Foote, and now she’s back with us,” Alexander said. “She’s a real wet-tracker and has good ability.

“She’s been off the scene for a long time. She had quite a severe paddock injury, which has taken a while to heal.

“The owners want to give her one more go. I’ve been pleased with her progress so far, but like Cornelia, she’s probably going to take some benefit from a solid conditioning run.”

The Alexanders’ other runner at Tauranga on Saturday is last-start second placegetter Midnight Scandal in the Super Liquor Greerton (1400m).

“She’s probably a better racehorse than her form line might suggest,” Alexander said. “Her maiden win over this course and distance earlier in the season was very good.

“Her front-running style can make her a bit of a sitting duck on occasions. She’s also had to race on a few firm tracks, which aren’t really her go. She’ll have more suitable conditions this week, and with the way the Belardos are going at the moment, I’m confident she’ll run well.”

Alexander reported that stable star La Crique has recently begun a month-long spell in Queensland. The high-class daughter of Vadamos was a last-start winner of the A$500,000 Magic Millions National Classic (1600m) at Eagle Farm.

“She had a few days in the paddock after that race, and then we put her back in the stable for three or four days, as much for the mental exercise as anything else,” Alexander said.

“Then she left the stable on Tuesday to go to the spelling paddock, and she’ll be there for a month. We’ll probably go over in a couple of weeks to see how she’s doing, and then we can make a plan for her next preparation.” 

De Lautour pair primed for Te Aroha

By Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

The 2023-24 season has produced a long line of placings for Waipukurau owner-trainer Lucy de Lautour, who is set to make her presence felt again with two well-credentialled runners at Te Aroha on Sunday.

From 14 starters this season, de Lautour has collected four second placings and a third. That sequence began in the late winter and early spring when Donardo was runner-up behind The Cossack in the Pakuranga Hunt Cup (4800m) at Te Rapa and Ian’s Legacy placed in a maiden steeplechase at Rotorua.

Metallo has recently picked up where those two left off, finishing second in both of his first two appearances over hurdles this winter. He was beaten by a neck by Lochwinnoch in a 3000m open hurdle at Wanganui on May 9, then headed to Te Aroha on June 3 and chased home Invisible Spirit.

Metallo is set to headline de Lautour’s team at Te Aroha this Sunday, where he will line up in the $30,000 The Bottle-O Te Aroha Hurdles (3100m).

The seven-year-old gelding will be ridden by this season’s jumps premiership leader Portia Matthews, whose seven previous rides on de Lautour’s horses have produced a win and four placings. She has been in the saddle for both of Metallo’s recent runner-up finishes.

“I’ve been really happy with both of his performances over hurdles in those last few weeks, he’s come back well,” de Lautour said. “He’s continued to go the right way since his last-start run at Te Aroha and I’m hoping he’ll run well again when he heads back there this weekend.”

Donardo will contest the Piako Rural Services Steeplechase (3500m). The 11-year-old son of Don Eduardo ran a big race in his first steeplechase start of the winter, finishing second and a head behind Izymydaad at Wanganui on May 9. He then lined up in the Manawatu Steeplechase (4000m), where he finished seventh and showed signs of soreness when he pulled up.

“He was just a little bit sore, it wasn’t anything major and he came right pretty quickly afterwards,” de Lautour said. “He’s going into this race on Sunday in pretty good order. Hopefully he’ll run a good race and then we can make a plan around what we do with him from there.”

Venturing north and performing boldly is nothing new for Donardo. Prior to his Pakuranga Hunt Cup placing last August, he also finished second behind Kiddo in the 2022 Great Northern Steeplechase (6500m) and ran fourth in that year’s Pakuranga Hunt Cup. 

Heavy track key for Burnvue in Amberley Cup

By Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Lance Robinson has a feature close to home in mind for Burnvue and Archerfield, and both horses will make their first bid towards a Gr.3 Winter Cup (1600m) on Saturday at Riccarton Park.

A rising nine-year-old, Burnvue has been a consistent campaigner for the stable with five wins to his credit, each coming on the rain-affected footing that he faces in the Greenwood Amberley Cup (1600m) this weekend.

“We’re expecting him to run really well, he gets his heavy track on Saturday which he’ll really appreciate,” Robinson said.

“He’s a year older, and he’s just taken a run or two to get back to his best. We feel that he’s well, and pretty right for this race if everything plays its part.

“He’d have to win on Saturday to go ahead to the Winter Cup, but we’ve put him in just to see how his form is between now and then.

“I’m fairly confident he’s come back good this time in and he’ll tell us, but if his form warrants it, we’ll be pushing on and that’s the path we’re leading too.”

Ashvin Goindasamy will partner the son of Redwood, while visiting hoop Kelly Myers has been booked aboard an in-form Archerfield in the Target Earthmoving Rating 75 (2000m).

The Ghibellines five-year-old recorded his fourth career success this preparation on a Soft 5, and the looming heavy surface poses little concern for Robinson.

“I’m very happy with the way he’s come up this year, he holds a Winter Cup nomination too,” he said.

“He doesn’t mind a bit of wet ground, and I think the 2000m will really suit him so he should run really well.”

Robinson will be strongly represented the Bain McCall Memorial Two-Year-Old (1000m) with first-starters Zoo Bear and Alleato joined by Ali Nell, who was a promising second behind Quintefeuille on debut in February.

“We’re really happy with her, she’s had a nice prep into this and has more experience than most of the others,” Robinson said.

“She hasn’t trialled this time in, but she’s done a lovely piece of work and will be running home really well.”

A son of Preferment out of stakes-performing mare Rikki Tikki Tavi, Zoo Bear was a comfortable trial winner at Ashburton in May in the hands of Robinson’s apprentice Kendra Bakker, who takes the ride on Saturday.

“I was very happy with his trial run, and I feel that he’s gone ahead since then too,” Robinson said.

“We just don’t know how all three will cope with the heavy track, but it’s a good chance to give them a 1000m two-year-old race on the grass before the spring.

“We’ll be able to get a good line on them after Saturday on how they are going, but I’ve got a lot of time for all three of them and they are going to make lovely three-year-olds.”

Vadamos mare Anneliese has been in consistent form on the polytrack at Riccarton of late, and a switch back to heavy conditions on turf is a positive ahead of the Sam Keenan – Tennis Coach Rating 65 (2000m).

“She loves a heavy track, her first attempt at 2000m but I think she’s been looking for that,” Robinson said.

“Her form has been excellent, and I think she’ll be very competitive on Saturday.”

Of Robinson’s remaining contenders, a formerly Danica Guy-trained runner in Suzuka will make his debut for the stable in the Cup Week Hospitality On Sale 26 June Rating 65 (1000m).

Robinson purchased the Satono Aladdin four-year-old on gavelhouse.com, who has placed in his sole attempt on a heavy surface.

“We’ve been really happy with him, he’s made lovely progress since being down with us and we’re still learning a bit about him,” he said.

“We’ll just run him on Saturday and see how he goes, but his work has been good since he’s arrived and he’s doing well.

“He’s a go-forward sort of horse that normally runs on speed, so with the three-kilo claim (Bakker), I expect him to be running on pace and see how that pans out.” 

Lofty’s Gift On Song for Riccarton test

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Southland trainer Robert Dennis is making the long trek north to Riccarton with two contenders for their Saturday meeting, including Lofty’s Gift who is shooting for her fifth straight win in the Taggart Earthmoving Rating 75 (2000m).

Lofty’s Gift transferred to Dennis’ Ascot Park barn earlier this year from Cambridge trainers Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray, running fourth in her Southland debut before putting together a picket fence form line.

 

It is pretty exciting to have a horse going for five wins in a row,” Dennis said.

 

“In a way she drops back in grade but it is probably a more competitive field than what she has been beating.

 

“She has come through her racing really well, I think she is going as good as ever, she can get through those (Heavy 10) track conditions, so I think she has got to be a good chance.”

The daughter of Ghibellines has been lumbered with top weight of 60kg but will get the benefit of apprentice jockey Donovan Cooper’s claim from barrier four.

“Donovan’s claim gets her down to 57 kilos,” Dennis said. “There is not a big spread in the weights with the minimum being 55kg and the max is 58.5kg. She is about smack bang in the middle, and I am happy enough with her weight for her rating.”

Saturday will be her furthest trip away from home since being based in the south, but that poses no concern for Dennis.

“She obviously travelled down from the North Island when she came to us. We are on the way up (to Christchurch now) so we will see how she gets on overnight, but with her attitude and nature I don’t think it will be a worry,” he said.

Dennis is excited about the future with the mare and is eyeing some big spring targets with her if she continues on her upward trajectory.

“We will just see how we go on Saturday. Talking with the owners, maybe we target a New Zealand Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) in spring,” he said.

“It is exciting to be gunning for five wins in a row, so we will concentrate on tomorrow first and work things out from there.”

Lofty’s Gift is being joined on the float trip north by stablemate On Song, who is looking to recapture form in the Optimise Fertilisers & Equi-lise Rating 75 (1400m).

The four-year-old mare won two consecutive races before finishing seventh and ninth in her last two outings, with Dennis believing the Heavy track conditions will be ideal for her this weekend.

“She wasn’t bad last time, she wasn’t too far away, she was stuck out wide, and she missed the kick,” he said. “She is certainly looking for the 1400m. The track at Wingatui played a lot better than the Heavy 8. The wetter track at Riccarton will bring her right into play.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday Dennis was happy enough with Magic Ace’s placing in the Harold Pateman 65 (1600m) at Oamaru.

“A bad draw (10) was his undoing,” Dennis said. “He jumped out really well and found himself four-wide on the speed the whole way. It was a hard run, but he stuck to his task well and it looks like he will get over a bit of ground and shouldn’t be far off from winning a race.”

Further north at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale at Karaka, Dennis was on the buyers sheet following lot 47 going through the ring.

“I bought a lovely Noverre filly out of a Pins mare for $30,000,” he said. “I am really happy with her, she is a lovely moving filly who is going to come down to Woodlands and grow out down here and hopefully she has got a little bit of class about her. There is a bit of hype around Noverre so I am very happy to have one from the first crop by him.

“She will be syndicated in time. We are up around the 300 owners with our horses now and we always get a good mix of new and existing owners come into any new horse we get.

“The stable is growing, we are taking on another staff member next week and getting a few more boxes and paddocks at Ascot Park racecourse.”

Dennis has had plenty of success buying younger stock over the last few years, and he is hoping his strike rate can continue with his recent purchase.

“I picked two (weanlings) out before, one was Make Believe who won five, and I paid $7,000 for her. The other was Goldies Chance who I picked out for one of the owners for $21,000 and she is a Listed winner and is still racing,” he said.

“Four of the last fillies I have picked out at the yearling sales are stakes performers, they have all won, and all been good value around that $20-25,000 mark. Hopefully we can keep it up.” 

Malt Time in top shape for Tauranga Classic

By Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

A spectacular lead-up performance at Ruakaka has given Shaun and Emma Clotworthy confidence that their stable star Malt Time is primed for a bold showing in Saturday's Listed Team Wealleans Tauranga Classic (1400m).

The daughter of Adelaide went into this month's Bream Bay Sprint (1400m) on a winless streak that dated back to the Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m) at Te Rapa in November of 2022. But she had proven herself against the very best during that time, placing in this season’s Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) and Gr.1 TAB Classic (1600m) along with the last two editions of the Gr.2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m).

Those credentials made Malt Time a clear standout on paper at Ruakaka on June 8, and she powered home from last to score a commanding victory by five and three-quarter lengths.

“That was a pretty pleasing performance,” Shaun Clotworthy said. “She’d had only one other start there and won that too, so she obviously quite likes that surface at Ruakaka.

“We haven’t had any issues with her since then and we haven’t had to do a lot with her. She had a gallop on Tuesday morning and went really, really well. Ace Lawson-Carroll, who will ride her again on Saturday, was thrilled with how she felt. So I think she’s heading into Saturday in good shape. It looks like a suitable race for her.”

The Tauranga track was rated a Heavy9 on Friday, which is in stark contrast to the Soft5 footing of Malt Time’s last-start Ruakaka romp. But her five starts on heavy tracks have produced a second to Mustang Valley in the Arrowfield Stud Plate, a third behind Darci La Bella and Express Princess in the Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes, and a fourth and a fifth in open sprints at Te Rapa.

“We’re hoping she’ll get through the ground okay this weekend,” Clotworthy said. “We don’t really know how she’d go on a Heavy10, but she’s run some good races on tracks that are on that slightly better side of heavy and it’s good that the Tauranga track has come a bit through the week.”

The Clotworthys will consider another Ruakaka assignment for Malt Time after Saturday's fillies and mares' feature.

“We won’t do a whole lot more with her in this preparation, but she might head back to Ruakaka for the Winter Championship Finals (on July 13),” Clotworthy said.

Malt Time headlines a five-strong team at Tauranga for the Clotworthys, who will also saddle first-starters St Vincent and Kerryanna along with Overstate and Mitonic. 
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