New Zealand news briefs

Williams glad to tick off another milestone

Popular Christchurch jockey Kylie Williams has her sights set on her next milestone after a triumphant double at Wingatui last Saturday brought up her 800th New Zealand win.

Williams, 42, jokes that she doesn't have the energy to chase down 1000 wins but with an aim of climbing the next rung of the South Island ladder, she said she is targeting Ali Robinson's 828 wins.

"I really don't know if I've got the energy to ride another 200 winners but I'll just keep taking it day to day and see what happens," she said.

"Actually Matthew Barnsley told me Ali Robinson is on 828 South Island winners so that might be the next goal to pass.

"It was pretty good to get to 800 wins, considering I only ride in the South Island. There's been three kids and probably five or six hospital trips keeping me off the scene along the way too so it was pretty cool to bring up 800 wins.

"I've been sticking to the good karma lately and everything has been going pretty well."

Williams brought up her 800th winner aboard the Robert Dennis-trained Savezar in the Waikouaiti Cup (2200m).

"She should go on with it too. Hopefully she can win the Dunedin Cup next," Williams said.

"Any win is good, whether that be a maiden or a Group race, though sometimes who it is for makes it that bit more special. I guess my 700th win for Tony Prendergast stands put in that respect.

"I've had a couple of second placings in Group Ones. Pins 'N' Needles ran second in the Thorndon Mile and third in the (New Zealand) Oaks on Feel The Rush."

Williams has a full book of eight rides at Riccarton on Thursday, consisting of Grandiloquent, Prima Donna, Dubai Lady, Lipa Mala, Medalza, Harbourside, Volvik and Vulture Street.

"Harbourside has drawn well and he's always consistent so he should go well," she said.

"And the two maiden horses of Andrew Carston's, Dubai Lady and Prima Donna. I quite like Prima Donna. She hasn't had much luck so far and I wouldn't be surprised if she ran in the money. She got buried on the fence at Kurow and she's quite a big filly and needs room to keep her legs going. 

"Dubai Lady just got unbalanced on the tight corner at Kumara and took a while to get balanced up again, so with a straight run, you'd think she'd be hard to beat."

Williams trains Grandiloquent herself and was buoyed enough with the Makfi four-year-old gelding's fifth placing at Wingatui on Saturday to back him up.

"He was on his last chance at Dunedin so he got a reprieve. He's a day-to-day proposition that one. He's got more issues than a guest on Jeremy Kyle," Williams quipped.

"I'm backing him up which I wouldn't normally do but he's come through the race well and there's nothing for him till the end of February so he can have a break after this one."

Williams' other racehorse in work is Just Maybe, a first-up winner in the South Island last month which has set her up for a shot at the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) at Wingatui on March 5.

Mum-of-three Williams is looking forward to the next generation on the racetrack, with her 20-year-old son Logan Bates on the cusp of a riding career in Melbourne.

"He works for Cindy Alderson at Cranbourne and he's just got to pass a medical and drug testing to get into the Melbourne apprentice school. He's been working pretty hard for that so that's really exciting," said Williams, whose other children Rico and Rhiarn are aged 14 and five. 

Marsh doubles down in Karaka Million 3YO

Stephen Marsh may not have a runner in the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie on Saturday, but he has doubled down on the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).

The Cambridge trainer will be represented by Miss Ella and Leading Man in the rich feature and he is particularly excited about the former’s chances after her 9-3/4 length victory at Rotorua last month.

“The blinkers really switched her on (at Rotorua). We have always thought a lot of her and I think she has gone right ahead from that run as well,” Marsh said.

“She is going super and her work has been good. 

“Michael (McNab, jockey) came in and galloped her on Tuesday, she has been up to Auckland for a gallop. 

“The draw (1) is perfect and she is going to put herself up on the speed and I think she is a real chance in this race.”

Marsh will also be represented by Leading Man who will be ridden from gate 13 by Matt Cameron.

“He is going along alright,” Marsh said. “It is more of a throw at the stumps with him. The race is $1 million and we qualify for it, so we are having a go.

“He has drawn out a bit but he will run some sort of race, but we are just hopeful there.”

Marsh is also looking forward to lining up last start winner Iconic Star in the Gr.3 Brighthill Farm Eminent First Yearlings Concorde Handicap (1200m).

“She gets into this race on the minimum (53kg) and she has drawn (7) out a little bit but she has got very good early gate speed. She will go forward,” Marsh said.

“We bought her from Australia from a tried sale and would love to get a bit of black-type here and then sell her back on the Gold Coast in June.

“That is the plan and her work has been very good.”

George Ryder target for Mo’unga

New Zealand-bred gelding Mo’unga proved himself at weight-for-age level in the spring and trainer Annabel Neasham is looking forward to testing him against Australia’s best once again this autumn.

The son of Savabeel won first-up in the Gr.1 Winx Stakes (1400m) in September before finishing runner-up behind Incentivise in the Gr.1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).

He then went on to finish handily in the Gr.1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) and Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) before finishing his campaign off with a third placing in the Gr.1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).

“He has certainly proven that he is up to those weight-for-age horses,” Neasham told RacingHQ.

“I thought his best runs were his first two over the 1400m and mile, he was just beaten in the Makybe Diva.”

Neasham is looking forward to gearing up for the autumn, with the Gr.1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) highlighted as his major target.

“At this stage I am thinking we might just keep him at those slightly shorter trips,” Neasham said. 

“We know he can get 2000m, but we think he is possibly a little bit better over the shorter trips.

“I think something like a George Ryder would be a good option for him.”