New Zealand news briefs

Lhasa looking to continue unbeaten synthetic streak

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Lhasa will be out to continue his unbeaten streak on Cambridge’s Synthetic track on Wednesday when he lines-up in the D & A Diesel 1300.

The four-year-old son of Hellbent has won all three of his previous starts at the track, including a last start victory over the same distance, and trainer Mark Treweek is hoping he can keep his winning momentum going.

“He is unbeaten at this stage on the synthetic, so he will go around again,” he said.

“Hopefully he gets a nice run from there (barrier two). He has drawn in before there (Cambridge Synthetic) and got a nice run.

“It’s probably the best field he has come across on the synthetic, so it will be an interesting race. There are a couple in there with very good form on the synthetic as well, mainly Monza, but as long as he gets a decent trip, I think he will be hard to beat. He has been working well, I am really happy with him.”

All going to plan on Wednesday, Treweek is looking to head south to Awapuni’s Synthetic meeting on August 9 to try and capture the lion’s share of the $100,000 on offer in the 1400m special conditions race.

“Since he has been going so well on the synthetic, we would look at one of the series races,” Treweek said. “There is one at Awapuni over 1400m that we would look to go to. He needs to run tomorrow to qualify for it.

“A lot of money has been spent on putting these synthetic tracks in, I enjoy racing on them, and it is nice to see a bit of prizemoney thrown at racing on those tracks.”

Following his Awapuni test, Treweek said Lhasa will likely head for a spell ahead of summer racing.

“We will probably back off him a bit,” he said. “We only wanted to give him the three or four runs and then give him a bit of a break. He raced well through last summer and he is pretty handy on the grass as well.”

Treweek will also head to Cambridge on Wednesday with last start placegetter Seamsew, who will contest the Garry Edge Tribute 970.

He is a big horse who has had a few issues with his knees, so we have tried to keep him fresh and we can’t do too much work with him,” Treweek said. “The 1000m races on the synthetic really suit him, so we just try and target those with him all the time.

“He has been working well and should go a nice race. He has drawn out (9), but you have only got one bend from the 970m, so I don’t think it makes too much difference for him.” 

Furlong to take sole charge of Champagne Racing

By Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Riccarton horsewoman Anna Furlong will take sole charge of the successful Champagne Racing Stables operation from the beginning of the new term.

She is well prepared for the changing of the guard having trained in partnership for the last 13 years with Shane Kennedy, who has announced he will take a step back at the end of this season.

“Shane has taught me all I know, having started with him fresh out of school and I owe him everything,” Furlong said.

“I couldn’t be more thankful or grateful, and he will still be involved with shares in some of the horses and will maintain a huge interest in the stable, supporting me in the business and attending the sales.

“Shane will always be at the end of the phone and we’ll continue to talk regularly, he’s like part of my family.”

Furlong joined Kennedy in a training partnership for the 2011/12 season and they have since sent out 166 winners with 12 at stakes level.

“All the Listed winners stand out, we have been fortunate to have had wonderful owners who gave us some brilliant horses,” Furlong said.

“We’ve had opportunities to get black type for them and the highlight was probably when we trained a Listed double at Dunedin.

“We won the Gold Cup (2400m) with Pendleton and the Guineas (1500m) with Excelleration and my first win with Rush’n Prince at Riccarton in 2012 was obviously pretty special as well.

“We weren’t lucky enough to gain a Group win, but we had placings including Blue Solitaire who was third in the 1000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m).”

Furlong therefore has extensive experience to draw on when she takes over the training operation.

“It is really exciting and a bit daunting, but realistically nothing will really change,” she said.

“It will be a bit odd and more of an emotional thing than anything else.

“All of our owners have known that Shane will be stepping back and handing over the reins and we have been really grateful for their support during this transition period.”

Kennedy, who has more than 350 training successes to his credit, will now focus on his property development business in Auckland.

“I will maintain a high level of interest in Champagne Racing, along with continuing a supporting role to Anna,” he said.

“It’s been a wonderful two decades and working with Anna for most of this time, watching her develop her skills and establish her career as a trainer and a role that I am very excited for her to continue to excel at in her own right.

“Both Anna and I are truly grateful and humbled by the support we have received from owners and supporters over the years and looking forward to pressing on into the new season at Riccarton Park with a fantastic team of young and well-performed horses.”

Among the promising members of Furlong’s team for the spring will be stakes performers Betty Spaghetti, Quintabelle, Miss Layla and Lil Zena. 

Phats to remain in Australia

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Former Central Districts galloper Phats is set to remain in Australia following a pleasing placing in his Australian debut at Flemington on Saturday.

The three-year-old son of Embellish won one and placed in four of his 12 starts in New Zealand before trainer Chrissy Bambry elected to test his talent across the Tasman.

He passed with flying colours when running home for third in the Mahogany Challenge Final (2500m) and is now set to remain across the Tasman, with Bambry now on the search to find him a Melbourne-based trainer.

“He was super, he had awesome sectionals that last little bit and it was just lucky that we had the faith in him. The bookies didn’t, they had written him off, but we thought he would stay all day and it was a pretty impressive performance to do that from last at Flemington,” Bambry said.

“We had done a similar thing (Australian campaign) with Lord Bouzeron a few years ago and we thought he fitted the bill and that was a suitable race for him, especially for $200,000, it was definitely worth going over.

“He will probably have a couple of more runs over there now. He is probably going to be better suited over there, so we will look for another trainer for him because I am pretty busy with our ones here at home.”

Meanwhile, Bambry is looking forward to heading to Wanganui on Thursday where in-form gelding Opawa Jack will tackle the Carpet Maintenance & Cleaning 1600 to keep him on target for the $100,000 2000m innovation race at Cambridge Synthetic next month.

“There aren’t any suitable races on the synthetic for Opawa Jack because there are no (rating) 75 stayers’ races on the synthetic, so he is just going to be there for a run,” Bambry said.

“He will go to the Cambridge for that 2000m race. He hates a wet track and he has got such a lovely big action that he gets a bit lost on those wet tracks. Last year I sent him up to EventStars for a month during the winter and with those synthetic innovation races it means that he can be in work. He can do that and come back for those spring races once the tracks get better.”

Opawa Jack will be joined in his Thursday contest by stablemate Kingfisher Lad, who will benefit from apprentice jockey Crystal Lindsay’s three kilogram claim.

“Kingfisher Lad has only had the one trial, so Crystal will get a bit of weight off him,” Bambry said. “He does love Wanganui, but it is just to get his fitness up and hopefully get over a bit more ground in the next couple of weeks.”

Bambry will also be represented by Let’s Get Loose in the Manawatu Sound Services Maiden 1600 and debutant Authentic Amani in the Wanganui Insurance Brokers Maiden 3YO 1200.

“Let’s Get Loose never gets a good draw but she is in good form, and I think she went really well in her first time over a mile this prep,” Bambry said.

“Authentic Amani is a first starter. She has only had a couple of jumpouts, but to get that raceday experience is invaluable, so it is better that she goes there than a trial.” 

Industry rallying behind Amanda Higgins


The racing industry is rallying behind Amanda Higgins, with the Ashburton trainer currently undergoing treatment for terminal cancer.

Fundraising efforts are now underway, with the proceeds set to help Higgins and her family. A Givealittle page has been set up by the New Zealand Trainers’ Association, while a fundraising dinner will take place at Addington Raceway on July 19.

The Salvation Army’s Andrew McKerrow has been offering his support to Higgins and her family, and is urging members of the racing community to show their support through the two fundraising drives.

“Amanda has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia. She had some treatment and it wasn’t very successful, so she is undergoing a second lot of treatment at the moment,” McKerrow said.

“It is quite a complicated case. She is currently halfway through her second round of treatment, so has moved back to Christchurch for that.”

Amanda is married to former jockey turned farrier Stuart Higgins, with the couple having a three-year-old daughter Lizzie, and 16-year-old twin boys Kaydence and Rylie.

“They (Amanda and Stuart) met down in Southland when working for Kelvin Tyler,” McKerrow said. “They are cool people.

“Stu has been up here to care for both Amanda and Lizzie, so he is limited in how much farrier work he can do, hence the reason why we are hoping to up the ante for fundraising for them. They are really good and humble people.”

Givealittle campaign:

Fundraising Dinner

What: Buffet dinner and a great night of racing.

Where: Addington Raceway

When: Friday, July 19

Tickets: $61, with $20 per ticket going to Amanda's family.

There will be raffles throughout the night ($5 per raffle).

Tickets can be purchased online - If anyone has any raffle or auction prizes, they can contact Rachel Deegan on 021 734 936 or email