New Zealand news briefs

Bedtime Story turning into a dream

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Promising filly Bedtime Story is turning into a dream for her connections.

The daughter of Per Incanto was runner-up on debut at Woodville last month and was duly backed into $1.60 favouritism for the DMAK Electrical & Air Condition 3YO Maiden (1200m) at Hastings on Sunday.

From her outside gate in the compact five-horse field, Bedtime Story settled in fourth just behind the speed where she was given an economical trip by jockey Kozzi Asano. The northern hoop guided his charge into the one-one heading out of the back straight before navigating her wide when turning for home where she was able to show a good turn of foot in the Heavy9 track conditions to score a 1-3/4 length victory.

Trainer Guy Lowry was impressed with her performance and is predicting a bright future for the filly.

“She has improved from her first start, she is improving all of the time. She is a nice filly going forward,” he said.

“You never know on a wet track, but we had indications that she would handle it.”

Bedtime Story is raced by breeder the Dowager Duchess of Bedford and is the first horse she has had in Lowry’s barn, and it is proving to be a flourishing partnership.

“I have known her (Dowager Duchess of Bedford) for a while and she has always been meaning to give me a horse, so it’s nice to have a good filly for her as the first one,” Lowry said.

Lowry is planning to take it quietly with Bedtime Story, with her next outing set to be at Trentham next month.

“She may head to Wellington on the 23rd (of December), there is a set weights and penalties three-year-old race over 1200m,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lowry said Zambezi Khan is enjoying a spell following her run in the Gr.2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) at Flemington earlier this month.

The daughter of Mongolian Khan will continue to race in Australia in autumn, with Lowry eyeing some Oaks targets in the southern states.

“She pulled up shin sore after the Wakeful, so we put her out for a spell,” he said.

“She will be set for the Tasmanian Oaks (Listed, 2100m) and South Australian Oaks (Gr.1 2000m).

“Every owner’s dream is to have a horse run for a bit of money over in Australia. She is definitely good enough, she has paid her way so far, I think she is a nice filly.” 

Cunningham’s Noble stayer scores Cup Week consolation

By Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Sandy Cunningham had hoped Noble Knight would be contesting the two-mile feature on Cup Day last Saturday at Riccarton Park but was delighted to settle for an impressive victory in the Rating 82 2600m event.

New Zealand Cup-winning jockey Sam Weatherley was booked aboard Noble Knight last Saturday and the northern hoop bounced the six-year-old astutely out of barrier three to position midfield and one-off-the-fence.

At the head of the 18-strong field was Good Oil, the ultra-consistent grey controlling a moderate tempo early before Lisa Allpress pushed the button at the 1600m aboard Rivera Rock to take over.

While other backmarkers began to struggle nearing the home turn, Noble Knight cruised into contention near the outer and descended strongly down the straight, drawing away from a brave Good Oil to score comfortably by 1-3/4 lengths.

The son of Ghibellines has been a dependable force in Cunningham’s Prebbleton stable for several seasons, and the victory came as a small consolation in missing their target of the Gr.3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) this season.

“Sam rode him the perfect race. It was a very different pattern (to the opening day), he rode him positive out of the gates and did everything right,” Cunningham said.

“We had planned to (run in the Cup) this time, but we had a bit of a hiccup in his prep and that didn’t happen. But we’re getting closer.”

Weatherley was pleased to record another victory during Cup Week, one that ended successfully when he took home the feature Gr.3 Martin Collins New Zealand Cup (3200m) aboard Mahrajaan later on the card.

“I just had to bounce him (Noble Knight) out and get him mobile, he’s been getting a long way back,” he said.

“It was a bit messy early, it was quite tight with everyone trying to get off the fence and having pressure from the other side.

“He went to sleep mid-race, I was on the back of Opie (Bosson, aboard Fierce Flight) and he wasn’t taking me anywhere, so it was a bit of a search-and-run, but to his credit he was really strong to the line and very willing.” 

Wellfield Lodge for sale

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

There will be a changing of the guard at Wellfield Lodge, with the Palmerston North thoroughbred nursery being offered to the market for the first time in two decades.

The Manawatu farm has undergone a change in direction in recent years, moving away from standing stallions, and farm manager Peter Didham ramping up his training operation.

Farm director Bill Gleeson said the decision has now been made to sell the farm and disperse the majority of its bloodstock.

“Wellfield Lodge was under Peter Didham and myself. We got to a stage in our life where we wanted to downsize a bit and Peter wanted to go training,” Gleeson said.

“We have done a development at the farm, there are sections for sale, and we just want to downsize now.

“When we first bought the farm, we bought four or five different blocks. Over the last four years we have progressively sold down some smaller blocks and that leaves us with the two main blocks, which can be sold as one block.

“We are also going to do a dispersal (of the bloodstock) which will be done over two or three sales on Gavelhouse.

“Peter Gillespie, who is one of our main clients that we own bloodstock with, has had a change of circumstances with his health so we are dispersing a lot of that stock.”

Wellfield Lodge has stood three sires in recent years – Alamosa, Road To Rock and Vespa, all to varying degrees of success.

Alamosa sired three Group One winners in On The Rocks, Stolen Dance and Kirramosa, while Road To Rock is the sire of eight-time Group One winner and former Hong Kong Horse of the Year Beauty Generation, and Vespa is the sire of Group One performer Kelly Renee and Group Three winners Puntura and Carolina Reaper.

“Alamosa and Road To Rock have both passed, and Alamosa was probably our most successful stallion,” Gleeson said.

“Road To Rock had some quite good gallopers but he didn’t enjoy the success that Alamosa did, but he certainly left a phenomenal horse in Beauty Generation.”

Alamosa was a big part of Wellfield Lodge’s major highlights, carrying the farm’s colours to Group One glory, with his homebred daughter Kirramosa doing the same in the Gr.1 VRC Oaks (2500m).

“Alamosa winning the Toorak (Gr.1, 1600m) after we bought him and syndicated him was a big highlight,” Gleeson said.

“As too was winning the Victoria Oaks with Kirramosa, a daughter of Alamosa, which we bred and raced.

“We did 12 months with Beauty Generation, we broke him in and got him going for Anthony Cummings.

“The other big highlight was producing Planet Rock, who was the filly of the year, and Abeautifulred. We sold Planet Rock and we raced Abeautifulred, and they went on to quinella the (NZ 1000m) Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) at Christchurch.”

While Wellfield Lodge is set to pass hands in the near future, Gleeson said he intends on remaining in thoroughbred racing in a reduced capacity for the foreseeable future.

“Where it all finishes up I am not 100 percent sure, but we intend to still be involved in some way,” he said.