New Zealand news briefs

Tough, but talented Gal doing it her way

Jodelin Gal is a feisty mare and trainer Carl Henderson has been forgiving of her attitude given the abundance of talent the five-year-old possesses.

The daughter of Swiss Ace has won five of her 12 starts, including three of her last four appearances, and will attempt to add to the family roll of honour in Saturday’s Gr.2 Westbury Classic (1400m) at Ellerslie on the Karaka Million card.

She is raced by breeders Ross and Corrine Kearney under their Okaharau Station banner and their colours are also carried by the mare’s half-brother and Gr.3 Anniversary Handicap (1600m) winner Banker’s Choice, who is prepared for the couple by Stephen Marsh.

Jodelin Gal is a headstrong type and Henderson has felt the full force of her temperamental nature.

“She can be a bitch of a thing and has been pretty hard work right the way through,” he said.

“We work around her and in the early days she broke all my ribs. I walked into the box and she double barrelled me so she has been a difficult mare, but the tough ones are usually the good ones.”

Jodelin Gal is proving Henderson right and was a winner at Rotorua in November and, following an unlucky run at Matamata, was successful at Tauranga before she claimed open handicap honours at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

“Hopefully, we can carry it on and it’s all systems go at this stage for the Westbury Classic,” Henderson said. “I’m happy with her, she hasn’t done a whole lot of work, but she doesn’t need to as she’s a fairly clean-winded horse.

“She spends a fair bit of time in the swimming pool and she looks fantastic and is bouncing around the place so that’s all you can ask for.”

Henderson is also keen to travel Jodelin Gal further afield later this year.

“I would love to get her to Brisbane in the winter, not that they get really wet tracks there but she can handle off ground,” he said.

“There’s a few nice fillies and mares’ races over there. The Kearneys are breeding from the mother and ultimately, they will breed from Jodelin Gal so the main aim is to get some black type.

“The only reason I have run her on wet tracks is that she is not the best put together horse and she can feel the ground a bit. She can handle it and run a bit of time so we’ve looked after her.

“Someone’s got to win the races in winter and if they can handle it and you’re looking after horse at the same time, you might as well be winning along the way.”

Henderson is being kept busy at his Te Awamutu-based operation with a boutique racing team and a number of untried horses going through their paces.

“I’ve got a lot of young horses being educated, we’ve got about a dozen two-year-olds in the system and where they end up and if they race in New Zealand, I’m not sure, I’ll find out along the way,” he said.

Henderson and the Kearneys will also be represented by Tinkers Delight in the Dunstan Horsefeeds Maiden (1400m) at Te Rapa on Wednesday, and she is rated an upset hope.

“I don’t mind her chances, she has got enough ability to win a race or two, but needs things to go right. At Rotorua last start nothing did, she over-raced and got carried away after she missed the kick,” he said.

“She won’t be the worst at Te Rapa if she jumps away and gets her own rules, she might be a chance.” 

Karaka Cup immediate focus for Notabadharada

A horse brought back to New Zealand with jumps racing in mind will be seeking two big prizes without obstacles in the way in the next two weeks.

Owner-trainer Chris Faulkner is planning to start Notabadharada in the Collinson Forex Karaka Cup (2200m) at Ellerslie on Saturday, and then back him up the following week in the Gr.3 NZ Campus of Innovation & Sport Wellington Cup (3200m) at Trentham.

A $7000 purchase from Grangewilliam Stud at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale, Notabadharada began his career with then Masterton-based trainer Kylie Little. He had four starts as a late two-year-old and early three-year-old before being sent to Jim and Greg Lee in New South Wales.

There he won three races over two and a half years before Faulkner brought him back to Pukekohe.

“Kylie said early on that he’d go to open company, no problem, so we sent him to Sydney, but he was a very unlucky horse over there,” Faulkner said.

“He probably should have won another five over there. He was getting blocked for runs in four-horse fields, which was very frustrating.”

Since then he has started nine times for three victories, the most recent in an open handicap over 2100m at Ellerslie on January 9.

“We brought him back to win a Great Northern with him,” Faulkner said.

“We also hoped to qualify him for the Jericho last year but he had one qualifying race in Australia cancelled and the Taranaki qualifier here was brought forward a week and he wasn’t ready for that.”

Instead he’s won at Rotorua, Riccarton, and then Ellerslie, when he rallied strongly down the straight after being left a little flat-footed as the field turned in.

“I believe he’s improved a little bit since then,” Faulkner said. “Our target is the Wellington Cup and the lead-up in Wellington isn’t suitable this weekend, so the Karaka Cup is ideal.”

Darren Danis, who rode Notabadharada to victory at Ellerslie, will be reunited with him for the Karaka Cup and probably the Wellington Cup.

Just seven horses were nominated for the Karaka Cup on Tuesday, with the field dominated by multiple Group One winner Tiptronic, the winner of the race last year, who will be allotted 63.5kg topweight with three-kilo claiming apprentice Erin Leighton to ride.  

Faulkner is a drainage contractor by trade but he’s had a long history with horses. Most notably he was in partnership for a time with Cliff Fenwick at Takanini, at a time when Fenwick’s star stayer Lord Reims won the Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and three editions of the Gr.1 Adelaide Cup (3200m).

If Notabadharada performs well there and at Trentham, another trip across the Tasman is possible – for the Warrnambool Cup (2350m) on May 5.

“It depends on whether we can go over to Australia by then,” he said.

Notabadharada is owned by Faulkner and Jean Bibby, who took over the share when her husband Paul died. They are big supporters of jumps racing and last year sponsored the Paul Bibby Memorial Great Northern Hurdle. 

Group Three target for Wewillrock

Hastings trainers Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen are hoping to make their mark on Karaka Million day at Ellerslie on Saturday with their promising three-year-olds Wewillrock and The Stoney One.

Fresh from producing Can I Get An Amen to run fourth in the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham last Saturday, the Hawke’s Bay trainers have nominated the pair for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), while Wewillrock is also entered for the Gr.3 Cambridge Stud Almanzor Trophy (1200m).

A son of El Roca, Wewillrock has looked smart in his four races to date.

Fourth in his only juvenile start, the $35,000 Karaka purchase beat subsequent Group Three placegetters Sassy Merlot and La Bella Beals on his three-year-old debut at Taupo in October.

He then finished third after getting well back at Rotorua on December 1, before scoring an impressive victory in a Rating 65 event at Te Rapa on December 18.

“He was a bit immature as a two-year-old but he’s got plenty of talent,” Lowry said.

“He’s still maturing and I know he’ll be a serious horse later on. He’s got a lot of improvement left.”

Lowry is leaning towards a start in the Almanzor Trophy with Wewillrock, who hasn’t raced beyond 1215m.

“He will probably run in the Almanzor Trophy over 1200m. He just missed a bit of work after Te Rapa and it is probably safer to run in the 1200m. He is a good horse and he will be competitive in that race and I am just lessening the risk,” he said. 

Lowry and Cullen will still have a tilt at the million dollar bounty care of talented Pierro gelding The Stoney One ($14), a winner two starts back prior to finishing second to One More Time, with that mare a subsequent winner at Awapuni and set to contest the Gr.2 Westbury Classic (1400m) on Saturday.

“He’s going well. I feel like beyond On The Bubbles, he is up with the rest of them on form in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic,” Lowry said.

Meanwhile, Lowry said Can I Get An Amen would have a break following her great Telegraph effort.

Can I Get An Amen started at 50-1 but Lowry, who has won the Telegraph with 8-1 shot Irish Fling and 80-1 chance Adventador, thought she was ready for a big race.

“We wouldn’t have put her there if we didn’t think she was ready to go well, and it’s a shame she didn’t get to third for some black-type,” he said.

“A lot of those horses came in off the back of the Railway two weeks ago and it was a second thought for a lot of them, whereas we aimed directly at the race.”

Can I Get An Amen is likely to be targeted at the Listed Power Turf Sprint (1200m) at Hastings in April and then fillies and mares races like the Listed Rotorua Stakes (1400m) and the Listed Tauranga Classic (1400m), both in May.

Also impressing from the Lowry-Cullen team at Trentham last Saturday was Mohaka, who led most of the way before finishing third in the Gr.3 Trentham Stakes (2100m).

“She’s a really good, honest mare and it was a terrific run against the pattern of racing on the day,” Lowry said.

Mohaka may be next seen in the Gr.3 Taranaki Cup (1800m) on February 5 and then possibly the Gr.2 Avondale Cup (2400m) at Ellerslie on February 19.

“She’s got a pretty high cruising speed and she’s never really been over ground, so it would be nice to think she could get 2400m.”