New Zealand news briefs

Rathbone well represented at Wanganui

By Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Local trainer Jo Rathbone will be represented by two of her well-performed gallopers in Billy Boy and Mr Twinkletoes at Wanganui’s Thursday meeting.

A regular front-runner, Billy Boy returned to the winner’s circle after setting his own terms in the Amateur event at Te Aroha last month, and he will step up in grade in the Hilal @ Grangewilliam Stud 2040.

“He just likes to roll along in front at a nice pace, Amber (Riddell, amateur jockey) seems to get along with him and rode him really well there,” Rathbone said.

“He’s obviously up in grade tomorrow, but he always tries hard.”

A former top jumps jockey, Rathbone has sights on a career over fences for the capable stayer and has noted next month’s Grand National week in Christchurch as a possible starting point for his new career.

“I’m hoping to have a bit of a team to go down south and he’s definitely one who may head down,” she said.

“He went last year and ran a couple of placings on the flat, but he also has his jumping ticket so I will decide over the next couple of weeks whether he potentially has his first jumping race down there. He jumps pretty nicely.”

Lightly-raced four-year-old Mr Twinkletoes returned to the trials after his second-up fourth at New Plymouth in early June, preparing him for the Carpet Maintenance & Cleaning 1600. 

“We went back to the trials as there just wasn’t really a suitable race for him, at times there seems to be a whole lot of options at once then not many,” Rathbone said.

“He’s been to Wellington a couple of times and not gone particularly well there, so when you have a horse like him who doesn’t seem to go well at a certain place, you’re a bit stuck for options.

“It’ll be the same with him as Billy Boy, we’ll see how he goes tomorrow and decide whether he goes down to Christchurch for some flat races too.

“Jumping wouldn’t be in his near future, but all of my horses do a bit of schooling in their work so potentially one day. It all depends on the horse really.”

Top apprentice Lily Sutherland will fulfil the rides on both horses, as well as having her third start aboard Nigelnomates, who despite strongly over racing has performed well in both of his appearances to date.

“He’s not the easiest to ride, he can go pretty hard early then decide that he’s maybe had enough and make Lily work quite hard,” Rathbone said.

“He does have the ability, it’s just getting him into putting his mind on the job and he can be a bit like that in his track work as well.”

The son of Preferment has drawn an outside barrier in the capacity field of 12 for the Manawatu Sound Services MDN (1600m).

“I think she’ll (Sutherland) just have to play it by air with the draw, he really does his own thing and might either be fierce or miss the start, as he has done in the past,” Rathbone said.

“It is a tricky draw especially from the mile start, but I’m sure Lily will have it sorted.

“He’s come through his couple of runs well and he shouldn’t be far away I wouldn’t have thought.”

Rathbone will also be represented Koda in the Wanganui Insurance Brokers MDN 3YO (1200m) and Julianus in the Wanganui-Taranaki Racehorse Owners Association MDN (1340m), with the latter showing good improvement off a spell first-up at Otaki.

“I thought it was quite a nice run first-up and he doesn’t seem to mind a wet track,” Rathbone said.

“I can’t see it improving much from a heavy 10 even though we’re having good days, at my place it’s been heavy frosts so that doesn’t allow the track to do much drying. He should handle those conditions though.” 

In-form Cimarron major Cup contender

By Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Cimarron has made a smooth transition to middle distance racing and he looks well-placed to further his record at Ruakaka on Saturday.

The son of Charm Spirit’s lead-up form on the track has been hard to fault and trainer-owner Jenna Mahoney has every reason to expect more of the same from the five-year-old in the ITM/GIB Whangarei Gold Cup Stayer’s Final (2100m).

Cimarron has a course and distance victory and two minor placings in his four starts beyond a mile and with Warren Kennedy again booked for the ride they again make an appealing combination.

“He’s pretty consistent and since we’ve shifted him up over ground he’s getting even better,” Mahoney said.

“He was good last time out and he loves the surface at Ruakaka so we’re making the most if it with him.”

Cimarron finished runner-up in a Rating 75 contest in his most recent visit to Ruakaka a fortnight ago and has done well in the interim.

“He’s only a three-win horse in an open race, but he gets in nicely and Warren is keen to stay with him so I’m happy about that, he rides him really well,” Mahoney said.

“I bought him as a yearling and he can have his moments, but generally he’s pretty easy going.”

Cimarron was bought out of Windsor Park Stud’s Karaka draft for $50,000 and is a son of the stakes placed Redoute’s Choice mare Betsy.

Her dam Quays won the Gr.2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) and placed at the top level in the Australian Oaks (2400m), Queensland Oaks (2400m) and the Arrowfield Stud Stakes (2000m).

Cimarron’s stablemate and Entain/NZB Insurance Pearl Series (1200m) contender Fernandez has also been in good recent touch at Ruakaka with a runner-up finish two runs back before the Per Incanto mare ran fourth after an interrupted passage.

“She is a really consistent horse and is rarely out of the money,” Mahoney said.

“She will like the good track up there and I’ve been happy with the last couple of runs. The last race didn’t quite go to plan and she got a bit far back and hopefully she can sit a bit handier.”

The other member of Mahoney’s team is Love Affirmations who will run in the Northland Business Systems Handicap (1200m).

The El Roca gelding was a comfortable winner on the course two runs back and then tailed the field home, but Mahoney is happy to forget that result.

“The race just didn’t suit him. He drew the outside gate and Warren (Kennedy) opted to pull back and then they slowed the pace down and sprinted,” she said.

“He got left a bit flat on the corner, but he pulled up great and we’ll try and ride him handier this time. He’s better suited that way, it was just the circumstances last time, so we’ll ignore that and move on.”

Hale seeking to plunder northern winter spoils

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Cambridge trainer Shelley Hale will head north to Ruakaka on Saturday to try and plunder some of the lucrative prizemoney on offer in the Winter Championship Finals.

Leading her charge will be in-form mare Blue Sky At Night who will attempt to claim the lion’s share of the $60,000 purse on offer in the ITM/GIB Whangarei Gold Cup Stayers’ Final (2100m).

The six-year-old daughter of Shamexpress won her first two races this preparation before finishing runner-up behind Khan Hunter in the Kiwifruit Cup (2100m) at Tauranga last month.

Hale has been pleased with her progress and is looking forward to testing her on better footing at Ruakaka, which was rated a Soft5 on Wednesday morning.

“She seems in pretty good order,” Hale said. “She is very bright and well, and a bit feisty. She is going very well and it will be interesting transitioning from Heavy tracks to a Good track up there by the look of things. I think over ground she is still well suited.”

Hale said Blue Sky At Night will likely head for a spell following her weekend test and will be prepared for some stakes targets later this year.

“We thought that we would head towards this series, and she will probably have a short spell after this and we will get her ready for something in late spring, early summer,” Hale said.

“I think she is going well enough at the moment to look at something like the Counties Cup (Gr.3, 2100m) and see how we go from there.”

Hale will also head north on Saturday with well-related three-year-old Talentoso, a Tarzino gelding out of a half-sister to multiple Group One winner and now sire Turn Me Loose, who will contest the $60,000 ITM/GIB Progressive Winter Championship Final (1600m).

“He has got a little bit of pedigree going for him,” Hale said. “He is doing a nice enough job, he didn’t have a lot of luck early on. He is going to be a better horse with another six months on him, he is still a little bit weak.”

Talentoso won two starts back before he was freshened and given one lead-in run last week ahead of this weekend’s lucrative target.

“We gave him a week in the paddock after his win (two starts back) and gave him the run over 1400m last Saturday just to clean the pipes to be ready for this Saturday,” Hale said.

“There is this nice prizemoney on offer and for a long time we have all grizzled about not enough prizemoney, so we thought we would have a look at this.

“He will probably have a month out after this and then we will get him a going a bit later in the spring too.” 

Ritchie rapt with Cambridge double

By Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Frank Ritchie was thrilled to collect a winning double on the Cambridge Synthetic on Wednesday, mostly due to whom he was able to share the success with.

Stunning Maire was the first to salute for Ritchie, contesting the Mawhiti Farm 1550 after a luckless run down the straight at Ruakaka when finishing seventh.

Returning to her home course, the five-year-old mare was allowed to find cover and settle back in midfield from a wide draw (10) and when it looked as though she might face the same fate, blocked at the top of the straight, jockey Kelly Myers took luck out of the equation when taking a gap and driving her to the line by a half-length to Hammer Time.

Ritchie was pleased with the performance, while indicating a step-up in distance is likely for the daughter of Holler.

“I believe she is a 2000m horse at her peak, but she flies the gate and over races with clear air,” he said.

“In more recent times she’s backed off that a bit, and as soon as she can get cover she seems to settle. She got up and won today, but as she goes up a grade, she’ll need to go a bit further.

“If she continues to cool it in the early part of the race, I think she can keep improving up another level or two.

“I’ll see how she recovers and then look at more opportunities, she’s okay in slightly off-ground but heavy is no good to her so we’ll just look for the right race.”

Ritchie went to $40,000 to secure Stunning Maire as yearling at the 2020 Inglis Premier Sale in Melbourne, and the mare has earned just shy of $60,000 with three wins for her trainer alongside many of his long-term clients.

“She was a beautiful animal and really took my eye,” he said.

“Her sire at that stage wasn’t too popular I suppose, but she had a great bottom line and looked magnificent, very athletic and a great walk.

“We’ve had a lot of fun with her and the owners in her have been with me since I was about 20 years old, I’ve had their horses ever since.

“It’s great, it gives you more joy as they have been good friends for a long time.”

Another great supporter of Ritchie’s owns Lemon Curd, who backed up her stablemate’s performance in the following event winning the Colin Bowden Fencing 1300.

Having her fifth career start, the daughter of Per Incanto had the benefit of Triston Moodley’s three-kilogram claim and settled three-back off the rail in running. Pacemaker Ready Eddie Go made her work for the win in the home straight, but the filly was too tough and prevailed by a short neck across the line.

“I was very happy with her going into the race, her work had been superb,” Ritchie said.

“Ironically with her, she’s usually asleep before her races but today she was quite antsy and hot, if I was a punter I’d have backed off a little bit because that’s pretty unlike her, but she got the job done.

“Triston said he still had plenty of horse underneath him at the line, so that encourages me to look for more ground with her.

“There’s another couple of wins in her I think, going up a grade she’s another looking for more ground and needs a reasonable track so we might just take it easy until the spring comes.”

Lemon Curd was bred by her owner Josiah Ma, who purchased her five-win dam Miss Caruso via in 2019. The mare by Pins won five races and has produced four winning foals.

“I’ve had this client from Hong Kong for a long time, going back probably 30 years now and he’s been great. He has lots of horses in Australia and always sends me a couple,” Ritchie said.

The filly’s unraced juvenile half-sister by Swiss Ace, Dink, is with the Ritchie stable and has won and placed in a pair of two-year-old trials. 

Branciforti on track for lucrative target following Cambridge triumph

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

A lucrative target is now in the crosshairs for Hamilton trainer David Greene with his polytrack specialist Branciforti following her win in the D & A Diesel 1300 at Cambridge’s Synthetic meeting on Wednesday.

The daughter of Belardo was fresh-up in the midweek meeting and was given the perfect trip in the trail by jockey Sam Spratt, before finding clear running room down the straight where she quickly captured the lead and ran out a 1-1/2 length victor.

“She did the job pretty well in a smart field today, it was very encouraging,” Greene said.

“I thought it (1300m) might be a bit sharp for her, but being in a fresh state and drawn one she got a beautiful trip. It is the sharpest she has probably been today, she is getting a bit stronger now.

“It becomes a bit tricky placing those (higher rated) horses, they don’t have a lot of options on the synthetic after 65 grade. She has got a very good record on there and it was another very good win today.”

The Sir Peter Vela bred and owned four-year-old has won three of her seven starts on the synthetic and is now in line to head south to Awapuni next month to contest the $100,000 1300m special conditions race on the synthetic.

“I need to speak with Garry Cossey (Pencarrow Stud racing manager), but I think the 1300m race at Awapuni might be an option for her,” Greene said. “She has won three races on the synthetic now and that is what those races are there for, so it would be a nice option for her.”

Greene said the $100,000 synthetic races are a great incentive over the winter months.

“You keep these type of horses up at this time of year purely for the synthetic,” he said. “She doesn’t really handle the heavy going so it is nice to have a carrot there to be able to aim for.

“It (synthetic track) is definitely a horses for courses track, but if they like it then they seem to be able to bounce through there pretty well. If they like it, you want to get them over there as much as possible.”