New Zealand news briefs

Sorcher notches another win for Te Akau’s southern barn


Te Akau Racing has once again been a dominant force this season, aided in no small part by their Riccarton barn, which notched up its 66th win for the season at Riccarton’s synthetic meeting on Thursday courtesy of Sorcher.

Tardily away from the barriers, the four-year-old mare quickly made up lost ground to settle at the rear of the field for jockey Warren Kennedy. Stablemate Fellini set a strong tempo up from, while Kennedy bided his time at the back of the pack. Turning for home the pair had a wall of horses in front of them, but Kennedy was able to find room out wide where Sorcha was able to show a good turn of foot late to capture the lead and score a two-length victory.

The daughter of Burgundy had placed on the surface in her two prior outings and trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson were pleased to see her get the chocolates on Thursday.

“It was a really good win and just shows how she’s come of age this season,” Walker said.

“She’s strengthened up and just racing so consistently. It’s always extra special to win with a horse that is bred at the farm (Te Akau Stud) and she’s doing a good job.

“We think that next season, because of the ability and consistency she’s shown, that she can prove competitive at black type level in stakes races.

“She can handle both the polytrack and turf, again showing her versatility, and she won in a really strong manner today.”

Bred by Glenn and Cathie Holmes and Te Akau Stud, and owned in conjunction with Paul Martin, Sorcha is the year older sister to stablemate Cu Chulainn, who won two from four and stakes placed in the Listed Champagne Stakes (1200m) last season.

Te Akau Racing principal has been rapt with the season to date and the success that has come out of their Riccarton barn, which is overseen by Hunter Durrant and Ashley Handley.

“Hunter and Ashley have done a fantastic job for Mark and Sam with the staff and horses at the stables at Riccarton,” Ellis said.

“We’ve often found that horses we send down really thrive in the South Island. We’ve had a lot of success at Riccarton, winning the 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) seven times, and the 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) six times, as well as winning other stakes races, and we love supporting South Island racing.” 

In-form sprinter in fine fettle for Te Rapa test

By Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Bargain buy Dusty Road continues to reward his connections and another top showing is expected from the talented performer this weekend.

The genuine son of Shamexpress will bid to further his record for trainer Graeme Cameron, who races the four-year-old with his wife Jacky, in the Mike Stent Decorators Sprint (1200m) at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Dusty Road has been out twice on his current campaign and following a resuming second, he finished a gallant runner-behind last season’s Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) Pier at Te Aroha.

“He’s really at the top of his game and came through his last run well and just gone ahead in leaps and bounds,” Graeme Cameron said.

“I can’t believe how well he is at the moment, he’s at peak fitness. He had a run along on Wednesday morning and he was brilliant.

“It will be another top field on Saturday and he’s up with the big boys, he’s got the points and put himself right there.”

Dusty Road was purchased as a yearling for $4,000 in a private deal struck by Cameron with the horse’s iconic breeder, the late Sir Patrick Hogan.

“He’s a real beauty and we’re enjoying him so much, it’s unbelievable fun,” he said.

“It’s hard to get a good one and I think he’s one of a lifetime.”

Dusty Road is from proven Cambridge Stud stock and is the first foal of Valotia, a daughter of the nursery’s former shuttle stallion Cape Blanco.

Valotia is out of the Gr.2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic (2000m) winner Singalong who was also runner-up in the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) and the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m).

Saturday’s outing will continue the path of Dusty Road, a three-time winner of nearly $90,000, toward a likely tilt at next month’s Listed Sinclair Electrical & Refrigeration Opunake Cup (1400m).

“I’m thinking about heading to the Cup, I was going to that series at Whangarei but he might not handle that track and believe he’ll prefer New Plymouth,” Cameron said.

“Hopefully, he keeps going forward so we can have a crack at some bigger races with him.”

Dusty Road will be ridden in his Te Rapa assignment by Jasmine Fawcett, who had partnered him in his last two appearances and they combined last spring to win an open handicap at Tauranga.

“Jasmine is on him again, I can’t get her off,” Cameron said.

“She knows the horse and gets on really well with him so I’m happy to have her. She does a good job and she’s flying too.” 

Berry The Cash out to continue purple patch of form

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Awapuni trainer Mark Oulaghan is hoping he can get his hand in the till once more this weekend with his top jumper Berry The Cash who will contest the Fairview Motors Waikato Hurdle (3200m) at Te Rapa.

The seven-year-old gelding has been in a purple patch of form, placing first-up over 2200m at Waverley before winning over the same distance at Woodville, and was first past the post in the Manawatu Hurdle (3000m) last start.

He will head north to Hamilton this week where he will be met by some stiff opposition, including last year’s winner Nedwin.

“Nedwin is obviously a good horse, it is quite a nice field,” Oulaghan said.

“We are pretty happy with the way he is. He has done everything right, so he should put in a good show on Saturday.”

Berry The Cash will be joined on the float trip north by stablemates Dal Kilchoan and Super Spirit, who will contest the SVS Starting Gates Hurdle (2800m) and Waikato/BOP Racehorse Owners’ Association Steeplechase (3900m) respectively.

“Dal Kilchoan has won a steeplechase, but we are just kicking him off, it is just a conditioning run for him in the maiden hurdle,” Oulaghan said.

“The other horse (Super Spirit), if he jumps okay, he should go well.”

Closer to home, Oulaghan will head to Trentham on Saturday with two runners, including Pinkerton in the Baxters Catering 1600 and Semper Magico in the Hallmark & Stone Parliamentary Handicap (2200m).

Pinkerton has won two of his three starts this preparation, while Semper Magico will be looking to recapture some form.

“If the track is loose down there it will suit them, but if it is puggy, it won’t be quite their thing. There is a bit of rain forecast for tomorrow (Friday), so that will help them,” Oulaghan said.

“Pinkerton is a good back runner and usually runs on strongly.” 

Stablemates facing weighty jumping challenges

By Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Star jumping stablemates The Cossack and Nedwin will have to cope with the heftiest of imposts on Saturday if they are to repeat their Te Rapa heroics of 12 months ago.

The Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal-trained pair will both have to lump the maximum topweights of 73kg in the Signature Homes Waikato Steeplechase (3900m) and Fairview Motors Waikato Hurdles (3200m) in their respective title defences.

The Cossack was a dominant winner a year ago with 68.5kg and has coped admirably with more weight in the past, albeit over the smaller fences.

“He’s carried it before, Nedwin hasn’t yet, over hurdles and he seems to have come up well again,” Nelson said.

“If he’s not competitive with it (over steeples) then it’s probably not going to get any better for him.”

Two winters ago, The Cossack comfortably won both the Hawke’s Bay Hurdle (3100m) and KS Browne Hurdle (3100m) under 73kg.

The 10-year-old, who will be partnered by Hamish McNeill, has won four of his seven starts over the big fences and goes into Saturday’s contest off the back of an unplaced flat outing in the Woodville Cup (2100m).

“We were a bit behind, but I think we have caught up,” Nelson said.

“We usually have quite a few jump-outs here and that helps get them ready, but we haven’t had them much at all at Hawke’s Bay with the track reconstruction.”

Nelson will lock in The Cossack’s next appearances after the weekend with Trentham the most likely port of call.

“We’ll probably got to Wellington after this if we’re happy, I’m not sure about the National and we’ll wait and see how he goes,” he said.

Barnmate and past Great Northern Steeplechase (6500m) placegetter The Anarchist will also go around in the Waikato Steeples following a late-closing fifth over the big jumps when resuming last month off an 11-month break.

“He is as tough as old boots and was very good at Hawera,” Nelson said.

“It’s taken a long time, but I think he’s learned to be a racehorse.”

Nick Downs will guide The Anarchist’s fortunes and will also be aboard Nedwin, who carried 70kg to victory 12 months ago.

“I’m happy with him but it’s been a bit unfortunate for him because he hasn’t had the lead-up races like last year,” Nelson said.

“He won a couple on the flat when the tracks were wetter and this year we haven’t struck a proper wet track so hopefully we get one of those on Saturday.”

Nedwin has won six of his 10 starts over the smaller fences, including last season’s Great Northern Hurdle (4200m), and is likely to take on a new role this winter.

“I would be considering a steeplechase for him at some stage this time around,” Nelson said. 

Alexanders excited about prospects of promising filly

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Fresh off the high of winning a A$500,000 race in Brisbane with their star mare La Crique, Simon and Katrina Alexander are hoping to keep their winning run going when they head to Trentham on Saturday.

They will trek down State Highway One with their promising three-year-old filly Cornelia, who will be first-up in the TAB Odds Surge Every Race At Trentham 3YO 1000.

The daughter of Swiss Ace has had just two starts to date, winning on debut over 1100m at Taupo last December before finishing third over 1200m at Pukekohe a month later.

She has enjoyed some time in the paddock and pleased with her resuming trial last month where she was runner-up at Te Awamutu in her 850m heat.

The Waikato couple are confident heading into Saturday, with the track rated a Heavy10 on Wednesday, and she will have the benefit of apprentice jockey Lily Sutherland’s one kilogram claim.

“She should go well,” Katrina Alexander said. “I think conditions will be favourable to her down there. She has had enough race day experience, and she did some very tough racing last time in.

“Her trial here was nice enough without asking her a hell of a lot. She has trained on super and is quite a forward horse.

“I know it is a little bit different going in a straight line down there for some of them and going down the chute for the first time can catch them out.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to race her against three-year-olds so it will be nice to be able to do that, albeit at this end of the season before we are forced into that more open company. There wasn’t much around for her other than that race down there, so hopefully that goes to plan for her.

“She is a powerful horse that loves the wet conditions. The sprint distance is definitely suitable for her. I am looking forward to kicking her off there.”

It will be Cornelia’s furthest trip away from home, but Alexander believes her quirky filly will handle the trip and is hoping it will bring her on in maturity ahead of her four-year-old season.

“She is a really quirky filly in and around the stable, she is hard work,” Alexander said. “She travels really relaxed to the races and she is a nicer animal to work with when she is out and about than in her normal routine where she likes to call the shots.

“I am not too worried about travelling her, I think it will do her good. I think she is a handy horse that can progress and get to open class. If we tick the travel box early on, we will be able to plan more forward for her.

“She is generally a very good horse in the feed bin, she carries condition well, and I don’t think the trip should upset her too much.”

Cornelia is rated a $4.40 equal second favourite for the race with TAB bookmakers alongside Arcachon, with Te Akau Racing’s Pokuru Gold and even money favourite