New Zealand news briefs

Mare cherry ripe for Tauranga

Don’t be surprised if Cherry Lane shows sharp improvement when she contests the feature at Tauranga on Saturday.

The Redwood mare had her first race in six months in an open 1200m handicap at Te Rapa last weekend, looming up on the turn before running out of condition in the straight to finish seventh while conceding weight to most of the field.

She backs up this weekend in the Listed Team Wealleans Tauranga Classic ITM/GIB Sprinters’ Winter Championship (1400m), this time at weight-for-age for fillies and mares over 1400m.

She potentially faces some good mares, notably Jodelin Gal and Secret Amour, but her Ardmore Lodge trainer Nick Bishara is confident of a much-improved showing.

“We didn’t get a trial into her for this campaign so last Saturday’s race acted like a trial for her, and she’s improved out of that immensely,” Bishara said.

“Unbelievably she’s come back as a seven-year-old mare better than ever, when usually they’re on the decline at that age.”

Cherry Lane, who will be ridden by Sam Spratt on Saturday, has won 10 of her 36 starts, all on rain-affected ground, and Bishara said this preparation was likely to be her last.

“She’s sound as a bell, and we’re very happy with her,” Bishara said.

Other Tauranga contenders for Bishara include Rising Road in the Seeka Kiwifruit Cup (2100m), and Rising Ransom in the Aongatete Avojects Handicap (2100m).

Rising Road also ran at Te Rapa last weekend, finishing a close second in a Rating 74 event over 2100m, and there is a chance she will be held back for the following weekend.

“She was very brave and pulled up really well after that run, which was amazing because it was a really tough slog at Te Rapa last weekend,” Bishara said.

“I would like to start her this weekend, because Selva Verde’s going to Ruakaka next weekend and I’d rather the pair didn’t clash there, but I’ll speak to the owners to see what they think. If she backs up I think Rising Road can win this week.”

Rising Ransom hasn’t shown much in four starts this campaign and hasn’t filled a place since winning at Te Rapa on September 4 last year, but Bishara said he can improve at Tauranga.

“He’s been schooling, doing pony jumps, and he’s on the improve. He came back a bit burly and we’re only finally getting him right,” he said.

“I do think he’s destined for a jumping career but I think he can still win another race on the flat.”

If Rising Ransom does go jumping he’ll join the stable of Kevin Myers, who also has another notable Bishara horse in his stable in Verry Flash.

He was sent to Myers with jumping partly in mind but the move has helped his flat career as well, with Myers producing him to win the Listed Rangitikei Gold Cup (1600m) last month.

“He was getting a bit lackadaisical and going through the motions here, and I could see in his attitude that he needed a bit of a change-up,” Bishara said.

“We thought that he’s by Zed, a stamina-type of horse, and how can you knock Kevin Myers, so it was worth a change and he’s all the better for it.”

Bishara said Verry Flash could end up starting in the Taumarunui Cup (2200m) on July 30, though he could end up taking on Rising Ransom and Cherry Lane there.

As well as the link with horses being sent to Myers, Bishara said some of his staff had gone to the Wanganui horseman for some education and had come back much the better for it.

“I’ve got a young apprentice here that I’m going to send down there. He does a terrific job with apprentices just going back to the basics. There’s a lot of apprentices that have gone down there and come back and been different riders,” Bishara said.

“I don’t think Kevin gets enough appreciation for what he does bringing young people through.”

One horse Bishara won’t be benefitting financially from any more is 11-time Group One winner Verry Elleegant, who he sold his share in after the mare’s majority owners decided to transfer the mare to French trainer Francis-Henri Graffard for a European campaign.

However, he will be keeping a very close eye on the mare, who began her racing career from Bishara’s stable.

“I love the mare. You’ve just got to walk into my house and you’ll see that – it’s adorned with Verry Elleegant photos, and I’m lucky enough to have had the saddlecloth from her Melbourne Cup that James McDonald and Chris Waller signed adorned on my window,” he said.

“How many people get to that pinnacle? She’s a freak, and I wish her the very best.” 

Wessex doubles up at Pukekohe

Promising juvenile filly Wessex scored her second career win when taking out the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1200m) at Pukekohe Park on Wednesday.

The daughter of Turn Me Loose won on debut last September before two unplaced stakes runs and trainer Andrew Forsman was pleased to see her back in the winner’s stall.

“It was a good win,” he said

“We know that she has got the ability there, we saw that in her first start. It was a matter of things working out for her and her getting a bit of confidence, which was good to see.”

Further stakes assignments are now in the offing for the rising three-year-old.

“We haven’t thought too far ahead, it was just getting this one out of the way and hoping she ran well. We can now press forward knowing that she does handle these sort (heavy) of tracks.

“Stakes races are an aim, we just haven’t worked out a path and how we will go about it yet.”

Wessex carries the colours of prominent owner Ben Kwok, who purchased the daughter of Group One performer Trepidation in partnership with Andrew Forsman out of Windsor Park’s 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale draft for $150,000.

“He (Kwok) has been a huge help to me in getting going,” Forsman said.

“He has been a great supporter for a little while now. He entrusted (bloodstock agents) Bevan Smith, Andy Williams and myself to purchase Wessex at the sales, and he has let us in for a little bit of the ownership.

“He is great for racing and hopefully we can get a few more results for him soon.”

Forsman was also rapt for winning apprentice jockey Kelsey Hannan, who rides regular track work for Forsman.

Crazy In Love scores on debut

Trainer Chloe Cumming was over the moon with the winning result of well-related three-year-old filly Crazy In Love when on debut in the Haunui Farm 1400m at Pukekohe Park on Wednesday.

The daughter of Turn Me Loose won her sole trial over 1300m on the Cambridge Synthetic earlier this month, but Cumming had doubts about how she would handle the Heavy10 surface on debut.

“The track was going to be a bit of an unknown, we didn’t know how she was going to go on a heavy track considering she won her trial on the synthetic,” Cumming said.

“Her sister (Yonce – winner of six of her seven starts and placed fourth in the Gr.1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes, 1600m) had form on the wet so we thought her ability might bring her through, which it did today.

“I think she will be better on a better surface.”

Cumming has high hopes for the filly but will speak with breeder-owners Lindsay de Souza and Todd Hartley, who also raced her sire Turn Me Loose, before making any concrete plans.

“We will speak with the owners and see what they want to do,” she said. “We don’t have any set plans as of yet. We will just see how she pulls up and go from there.”

Crazy In Love was one of three winners on the card by Turn Me Loose, whose eldest are just three. 

Green light for New Plymouth racing

Taranaki racing has been given the green light for racing to return to New Plymouth Raceway next month.

The track has been out of action since February following successive abandonments due to the slippery nature of the track.

Subsequent remedial work has taken place to improve the surface and the track was given the tick of approval last Thursday following jumpouts from senior jockeys, including Craig Grylls, as well as Racing Integrity Board stipendiary steward Neil Goodwin and New Zealand Thoroughbred racing track convenor Todd Treweek.

The club’s major winter meeting of the year, featuring the Powerworx Opunake Cup, will be run on Saturday, July 23.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing also announced the scheduled Egmont meeting in Hāwera would remain on Sunday, July 10.

“It was great for Kelsey. She has turned up and done a lot of work for me, she has helped me out a lot,” Forsman said.

“She turns up early in the mornings and rides a couple before riding for other people. She has ridden at jumpouts for us and she has been great.

“She has got a great attitude and a great head on her shoulders for a young person. She has got a good style on a horse, and I am sure she is in for a big future.”

It was a successful day at Pukekohe for Wessex’s sire Turn Me Loose, whom Forsman prepared in partnership with Murray Baker to win three times at Group One level.

The exciting Windsor Park Stud stallion sired two further winners – Me Liberez in the Betavet 1400 and Crazy In Love in the Haunui Farm 1400, while his three-year-old gelded sons Miscreant and Turnmeon finished close seconds over 1200m and 1600m respectively.

“As they mature and develop they seem to be hitting their straps,” Forsman said of the progeny of Turn Me Loose.

“We always thought he had the ability to leave that in his progeny and it is great seeing that come to fruition.” 

Targhee scores at Pukekohe

Four-year-old mare Targhee broke maiden ranks second-up off a lengthy spell, when successful in the Dunstan Feeds 1200 at Pukekohe on Wednesday for trainers Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard.

Admirably performed in good two-year-old fields, Targhee was off the racing scene for more than 12 months following her three-year-old campaign, but indicated readiness when wearing the leader down in resolute fashion to win a trial at Avondale in April.

She resumed with a tough effort for third at Matamata last month.

Gerard said the year-long break was highly beneficial for the well-related daughter of Dissident, who comes from the family of Group One winner Tully Thunder.

“We gave her a really good long break where she did heaps of growing and just needed the time to fill out. She’s still maturing,” Gerard said.

“She went through a Gavelhouse sale when some owners wanted out and we bought her back because some of the owners wanted to stick with her.

“She’s got great bloodlines and probably wants to go a mile, but after the first-up run I had a chat with Mike (Moroney) and we agreed to keep her at 1200m and put the blinkers on, with a view to getting back and running on.

“Her work had been first-class and I think she’s only going to get better once she gets up over 1400m and I think she’ll get a mile, too.

“It was a good ride by Michael (McNab) and he said she got there pretty easily.

“She’s owned by some really loyal stable clients, including Gary Eddington from my home town in Methven.