Auckland TBA show support for Vance

Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ branch president Mark Chitty presenting Maija Vance with a cheque to assist her with her rehabilitation. (Photo: NZTBA)

This week injured jockey Maija Vance and her faithful dog Toro visited Haunui Farm, where the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association presented her with a cheque for just over $7800.

The Cambridge jockey suffered extensive injuries after a fall at Rotorua on September 16.

Two of her vertebrae in her spine were fractured with another three out of line and she underwent a four-hour operation to have rods and a metal plate inserted.

She also suffered two punctured lungs, several broken ribs, facial injuries including six broken teeth, and she almost bit her tongue off during the smash.

“I have some feeling in my right leg, but at this stage none in my left,” Vance said.

“I can stand and walk with the (walking) frame, but my brain has to tell my left leg what to do. That’s why it is braced so it stays upright.

“I am making good progress and our house is now all set up with ramps and things to cope with the wheelchair.”

Vance said she uses the wheelchair if she is going to the shopping mall or longer distances, but prefers the walker, however this week she is undergoing further surgery and will be wheelchair-bound for the following four weeks.

The Auckland branch of the NZTBA, along with Head Office and Dunstan Nutrition, contributed to the fund to help with Vance’s rehabilitation.


Derby aspirations with Swords Drawn

Shaune Ritchie believes Swords Drawn may have what it takes to contest the Gr.1 Vodafone NZ Derby.

Promising Cambridge three-year-old Swords Drawn added a second stakes placing to his record when running third to Cutadeel in the Listed Three-Year-Old Salver (2100m) at Ellerslie last Sunday. 

He has impressed his trainer Shaune Ritchie in his six starts and the Cambridge trainer believes Swords Drawn has the potential to contest the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie in March.

“I was impressed (with his run on Sunday),” Ritchie said. “I love the way this horse attacks the line. Jason Waddell (jockey) came off him and said it took him until the 1200 to pull him up.

“It will be nice to give him a maiden mile, and you would think hopefully a win, in preparation before the Avondale Guineas (Gr.2, 2100m) and his main target is naturally the Derby.”

  • NZ Racing Desk



Giant Gem keeping Dyke in frame

Giant Gem (Shafiq Rusof) scoring comfortably at Te Rapa last Saturday for Cambridge trainer Bernard Dyke.

Giant Gem is helping Cambridge horseman Bernard Dyke remember the winner’s stall.

Dyke, a Group One-winning trainer, had to settle for a couple of placings from limited starters over three seasons before Giant Gem broke the long drought when scoring at Te Aroha last April.

The four-year-old son of Red Giant was at it again last Saturday at Te Rapa when he ploughed through the mud to win the final event, the Team Wealleans Premier 1400m.

Giant Gem is raced by Dyke’s parents, John and Mary, along with Waihi Livestock Ltd (Oliver Saxton and Michael Crawford), who bred him in partnership with Dyke.

Giant Gem has been taken along patiently by Dyke with just six starts since his debut at Avondale 11 months ago.

He showed promise in that first campaign when third in his second start, at Matamata, with the winner being Veine D’Or, who took her record to three wins from 11 starts when scoring at Tauranga last Friday.

Giant Gem broke through for his first win in his next start when stepped up to 1400m and he was turned out after just one more start.

His latest campaign began with a third over 1200m at Te Aroha last month and he hinted he was close to a win when an unlucky fourth to Pink Grafitti over the same trip at Ellerslie on December 1. That day he was held up in the final stages and never got a real crack at the leaders.

Shafiq Rusof took the ride last Saturday and he ensured Giant Gem wasn’t going to be unlucky this time, keeping him in the clear throughout.

Out well, Giant Gem settled fifth one-off the fence and was under a nice hold with 1000m to run.

Rusof started to urge him along approaching the home turn then took him to the centre of the track for his run.

Giant Gem unwound strongly to take control and went to the line without being pressured to win by a length and three-quarters from the Stephen Marsh-trained Belle Fascino,

All Giant Gem’s races have been on rain-affected footing and if he gets conditions to suit he should continue to provide a few highlights for Dyke, maybe even a win at Ellerslie, the home of Dyke’s major triumphs.

Dyke prepared Star Harvest to win the 1991 Gr.1 Auckland Cup and Floydeboy to take the 2007 Gr.1 Easter Handicap (then named Champions Mile), both at Ellerslie.

He also enjoyed much success with the good stakes-winning sprinter Krispin Klear, whose 13 wins included five at Ellerslie and a second to Kailey in the 1997 Gr.1 Railway Handicap before finishing third to O’Reilly in the Gr.1 Telegraph Handicap at Trentham.

Miss Dalghar on comeback trail

Miss Dalghar (Brendon Hutton), pictured showing her winning style at Te Rapa early last year, is on track for a comeback this weekend.

Cambridge trainer Frank Ritchie will take another tentative step with talented mare Miss Dalghar at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Miss Dalghar, a two-race winner from seven starts, has been off the raceday scene since finishing unplaced in the Gr.3 ISCL Rotorua Stakes (1400m) at Rotorua last May.

“She had tendon problems and virtually we were going to retire her,” Ritchie said.

“We’ve decided to give her another chance and see if she stands up all right. So far she has been doing well, but we’ll just take it one step at a time.”

The five-year-old daughter of Dalghar took a step toward her comeback when finishing third in a 1200m Cambridge trial last month behind last Saturday’s Gr.3 J. Swap Contractors Sprint winner Sultan Of Swing and the Gr.1 winner Devise.

“She trialled up nicely and I’d love to get black type with her,” Ritchie said.

“She’s at least Group Three or Listed level in my opinion.

“She’s pretty well bred. She’s the first foal (of Top Of The Day) and the second foal is Sacred Day, who is going well for Tony Pike. Tony also bought the next foal, a full-sister to her (Miss Dalghar) and she’s gorgeous.”

Sacred Day (by Azamour) produced a big effort to win at Ellerslie last Thursday evening. It was his second win from seven starts and he has been placed in each of his other outings.

Miss Dalghar’s two wins came in the summer of 2017 in sprints at Te Rapa so she is returning to her happy hunting ground this weekend.

She was also runner-up on the course behind the smart Love Affair in April last year and her only other start at Te Rapa was when a creditable sixth in the Gr.3 Inglis Sales Cambridge Breeders Stakes (1200m) in April last year.

Ritchie in for The Good Fight

The Good Fight producing a winning performance that may even take him to the Wellington Cup.

Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie is excited heading into the Christmas-New Year period with his in-form racing team.

Heading that list is High Chaparral four-year-old The Good Fight, who recorded his second win from eight starts in the Pathways – The Immigration Specialists Premier (2400m) at Te Rapa last Saturday.

Ritchie has a lot of time for the gelding, whom he purchased out of Rich Hill Stud’s 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale draft for $300,000, but said he still has a bit of maturing to do.

“He’s a beautiful type of horse with a good pedigree and he’s starting to show that now,” Ritchie said.

“It’s very hard to win $300,000 back — he’s got to do a lot more yet — but fortunately he’s starting to step up to the plate and showing what his pedigree and physique is allowing him to do.”

While he has nominated The Good Fight for the Gr.3 NZ campus For Innovation & Sport Wellington Cup (3200m) at Trentham next month, his main target for the summer is the Dunstan Feeds Championship Final (2200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

“The world is his oyster, but it is very hard to know how high we can aim,” Ritchie said.

“I have nominated him for the Wellington Cup, but he’s going to run in the Dunstan Final (at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day) then we’ll take a breath and have a look.

“He’s just got a bit of maturing to go and I’d just like to see 12 to 15 more kilograms on him before we take on the open horses.

“We just might give him a little breather after the Dunstan Final. We have got Excalibur in line for the Wellington Cup too, so the stablemate might have to hold the flag for the stable there.”

Ritchie is bullish about Excalibur’s chances in the Wellington Cup after his fourth placing behind Mongolian Marshal in the Gr.3 Waikato Cup (2400m) at Te Rapa last Saturday.

“That’s his goal race (the Wellington Cup) and he hit the line very well on Saturday,” Ritchie said.

Sultan Of Swing may have won at Te Rapa last Saturday, but he didn’t power to the line as Shaune Ritchie hoped.

“We had a few feet issues with him. His first two runs were superb, but he got a little infection in his feet and we had to put the bar plates on him on Saturday and they will be coming off next time.

“If those top couple in the market pull out, I’d say that 18-1 on him is looking pretty good.”

Meanwhile, Ritchie is looking forward to lining up Sultan of Swing in the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day after his win in the Gr.3 J Swap Contractors Sprint (1400m) last Saturday.

“I’m pretty keen to get him up over a mile,” Ritchie said. “He used to be very good as a sprinter fresh-up, but now he’s a year older he’s racing back in the field a little bit and with these 1400m and mile races being run at a good clip I think it will suit him.”

Although pleased with last Saturday’s win, Ritchie does hold some concerns about the way his charge is finishing his races of late.

“He’s been a very good horse,” he said. “His form is remarkably consistent, but in his last couple of starts he’s looked like he’s had an unwillingness to win races.

“He went up alongside Magnum (on Saturday) like he was going to win and then he got headed. I thought he was going to give it away again, but he kicked back on the line.

“He’s not running his races truly to the line and I have no idea why. He’s vetted up all good and he’s racing in pretty good form, but it’s just a little bit of a concern that he’s not attacking the line like he was as a younger horse.”

All going to plan, Sultan of Swing could be set for bigger targets next year.

“If he did happen to win the Rich Hill, we’d probably back off and have a look at the 1400m weight-for-age race at Te Rapa and maybe the Otaki Group One mile,” Ritchie said.

– NZ Racing Desk

Yamuna on the winning path

Yamuna (Shaun McKay) unwinding strongly to notch her first win at Tauranga last Friday. She looks set to make her mark over more ground.

Chris Wood put a couple of new stable clients in a celebratory mood when producing Yamuna to clear maiden ranks at Tauranga last Friday.

Yamuna, a four-year-old daughter of Iffraaj, had promised a win with her first five starts resulting in two seconds, two thirds and a fourth and she duly delivered with a convincing win in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series 1400m.

Yamuna is owned by an Auckland couple, Rean (Ray) and Ann Cattle, and races under their Anray Holdings Ltd banner.

“It’s great to get a winner for them,” Wood said. “They’re new clients of mine so it’s exciting.”

The couple bought Yamuna from the 2016 Select Yearling Sale at Karaka for $27,500 and the win will help boost interest in her half-brother by Proisir who is being offered in the Haunui Farm draft in Book 2 at the upcoming National Yearling Sales at Karaka on January 31.

Yamuna’s dam, Yamanna (by Yamanin Vital), was a capable stayer who won three races from 2100 to 2400m and is a sister to the stakeswinners Requisite (Gr.3 MRC Eclipse Stakes) and Rosa Marada (Listed Belle of the Turf Stakes at Gosford).

Yamuna was runner-up on debut at Matamata last May and two starts later she finished third at Te Teko behind Sweet Nineteen and Codecracker, form that has stacked up well.

Sweet Nineteen won again at Ellerslie last Thursday and Codecracker scored at Matamata last July and has been four times placed since that success.

However, an even better form recommendation for Yamuna came at Te Rapa late last month when she looked to lose all chance with a very slow getaway and somehow managed to charge home for second over 1400m.

Making that effort even more notable was the fact the winner was the exciting Queen Of Diamonds, who went on to win the Gr.3 Lawnmaster Eulogy Stakes (1550m) at Awapuni last Saturday.

Despite that huge performance at Te Rapa, Yamuna was overshadowed in the betting in her Tauranga outing and started third favourite behind Massachusetts (fourth) and Salt Bay (seventh).

Shaun McKay was again in the saddle and he made sure Yamuna jumped out well before letting her settle.

She drifted to midfield on the inner and was fourth-last at the 800m then held up a shade across the top before being angled out on the turn.

With 150m she still had four runners in front of her, but then she slipped into overdrive, flashing down the outside to win easily in the end by two lengths from the Stephen Marsh-trained Snitz Of Time.

“She’s not a big robust horse and she needs to find her feet,” Wood said. “Halfway up the straight I didn’t think she’d get there.”

McKay has been aboard Yamuna in each of her three runs this campaign, the first resulting in a third at Tauranga last month.

“She’s been really unlucky in her last two starts and once into the clear she really run home well,” McKay said.

“Once she gets to a mile she’ll win a few more. She’s going to be a pretty good horse.”

Yamuna’s next mission will be a $50,000 special conditions 1400m at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

Apellido wins but watch for runner-up

Apellido (Jonathan Riddell) holding out stablemate Spring Delight (outside) in a close finish at Ellerslie on Sunday.

Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman picked up a quinella at Ellerslie on Sunday and the senior training partner handed out a valuable tip for punters.

The Cambridge duo produced Apellido to win the Mag N Turbo Catch Me If You Can Soul Man 1600 from stablemate Spring Delight and, though pleased with the win, Baker was quickly pointing toward the runner-up as a next-up winner.

“The filly hit the front a long way out. I thought it was a top run,” he said.

“She did everything wrong in her first start. She’s got ability and should improve a lot.”

Spring Delight, co-bred and part-owned by Sir Patrick and Justine, Lady Hogan, was seventh on debut at Te Rapa last month when having to be steadied on occasions and in Saturday’s race she settled fourth and went through to lead at the 300m then was headed by Apellido and fought back bravely to go under by a mere head.

The daughter of Tavistock holds nominations for two Gr.1 Trentham events, the Levin Classic (1600m) on January 12 and the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) on March 16.

She is a daughter of the Zabeel mare Ana Zeel, a three-race winner who developed into a handy stayer with her efforts including a second in the 1999 Gr.2 Queen Elizabeth Handicap (2400m) at Ellerslie.

Apellido also showed a touch of stamina with his winning performance over 1600m, aided by a top ride from Jonathan Riddell.

From a wide draw, Riddell elected to take hold of Apellido in the early stages, easing him back and across to the rail to be last on settling.

After being in the last couple, he improved Apellido a shade at the 650m then got to work on the son of Sepoy who appeared to be flat heading to the home turn.

He then wisely stuck to the inside rail to make his bid and Apellido responded well to finish strongly and set to in a battle with his stablemate, but he didn’t help himself through lugging out inside the final 50m.

Apellido is raced by his breeders, Marc and Sara Devcich (of Henley Park), and was having just his second start.

He had finished fourth in the first of his two trials then raced greenly when seventh on debut over 1400m at Te Rapa last month.

Blinkers were added for the first time on Sunday and the desire result was achieved with the promise of more success with experience.




Ready for Ellerslie pipe-opener

Dawn Patrol, pictured winning at Matamata, will get a right-handed test at Ellerslie in a hit-out on Thursday.

Gr.1 performer Dawn Patrol will get his first feel of the Ellerslie track this week as part of his preparation for a return to racing on the course on Boxing Day.

The smart Cambridge three-year-old has been freshened since his fighting second to Madison County in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 10 and trainer Frank Ritchie plans to give him a hit-out at Ellerslie on Thursday.

“I’m taking him up for a gallop to give him a look at Ellerslie,” Ritchie said.

“All his three races have been left-handed and I want to let him get the feel of Ellerslie before he races there on Boxing Day. It always helps if they’ve had a run around Ellerslie.”

Dawn Patrol’s Boxing Day mission is the Listed Shaw’s Wire Ropes Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m) and Ritchie plans to reassess his progress after that event with a view to his main mission, the Listed Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 26.

“If he needs another race between times there’s one at Ellerslie on January 13 which will fit in nicely, but I won’t be making a decision until after the Uncle Remus,” Ritchie said. “He mightn’t need another one.”

Though Dawn Patrol hasn’t raced right-handed, two of four trials have been that way round and those are the only two trials in which he has been beaten.

“He was second in his first trial at Avondale and got on the wrong leg and wandered about a bit,” Ritchie said. “The other time was at Te Aroha before he went down for the 2000 Guineas.

“That day he relaxed lovely and went a top trial (for third to Passing Shot and Stratocaster).”

Frank Ritchie has two nominees for the Vodafone New Zealand Derby.

Dawn Patrol created a big impression when unbeaten in his first two starts, both at Matamata, and Ritchie says he has thrived since returning from Christchurch.

“He had 11 or 12 days out spelling and he put on 28 kilos,” he said.

“He’s a big doer and every morning when I go down to the stables he’s the first one looking for his feed.”

Dawn Patrol, a son of Dawn Approach, holds a nomination for the Gr.1 $1 million Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 2, but Ritchie is unsure whether his stamina will stretch to the staying test.

“He was as fit as he could be when he went to Riccarton for the 1600m and with the sprint he’s got I’m not sure he’ll get the Derby trip, but we’ll find out,” Ritchie said.

“He’s by a sprint sire, but he’s from the family of Limitless and she got two miles.

“I’d like to think he can get a mile and a quarter (2000m) and, if he won or ran on strongly to be placed in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic, we’d have to run him in the Avondale Guineas to see if he could get to the Derby.

“It’s the only race that fits in as a suitable lead-up to the Derby for him.”

The Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) is at Ellerslie on February 16, three weeks after he contests the first of two $1 million three-year-old events and a fortnight before the second one, the New Zealand Derby.

Grand Award, another horse Ritchie has nominated for the New Zealand Derby, has shown promise in his three trials, capped off with a win at Te Aroha last week. The son of Shamus Award is set to make his raceday debut in a three-year-old maiden 1400m at Te Rapa this coming Saturday.

“His trial was good and he has got ability,” Ritchie said.

“He’s definitely a going to make it over ground, but he’ll have to do a hell of a lot to get to the Derby.

“It’ll probably come up too soon for him, but we’ll give him his chance to get there.”

Final start no Fantasy for Fiscal

Fiscal Fantasy (Jason Waddell) breaking a drought when notching her third win and first success since scoring exactly a year earlier.

Frank Ritchie has pint-sized Fiscal Fantasy ready to roll for her big mission at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day with her win over 2100m at Te Rapa last Saturday.

The Australian-bred daughter of Skilled earned a crack at the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final (2200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day with a late charge to victory against her rating 65 opposition after getting held up in the run home.

It was Fiscal Fantasy’s third win from 13 starts and, as Ritchie says, what she lacks in size she makes up for in heart.

“She deserved that win,” Ritchie said. “She hadn’t had much luck this time in and because of her size she gets pushed around a bit.

“Jason (Waddell) tagged her beautifully and, being held up like she was, played into her hands.

“She’s got a good finish and she showed it.”

Fiscal Fantasy’s latest campaign began with an unlucky second behind The Mitigator over 1600m at Hastings then she flashed home for fourth to the highly rated Rhinestone Cowboy over the same trip at Ellerslie.

Her next start, also over 1600m at Ellerslie, saw her being held up in the run home and never getting a fair crack at the first two when third to Fancy More.

Bostonian on track for Railway

Bostonian (Vinnie Colgan) producing an impressive lead-up to the Gr.1 Sistema Railway with his win in the Listed Haunui Farm Counties Bowl.

Smart Cambridge galloper Bostonian is heading in the right direction as he prepares for the Gr.1 $200,000 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

Trainer Tony Pike gave Bostonian an exhibition gallop between races at Te Rapa on Saturday and was pleased with his hit-out.

Ridden by Vinnie Colgan, Bostonian was timed to run the final 800m of his work in 47.72 and the last 600m in 34.83.

“He’s thrived since his fresh-up run,” Pike said.

“His coat wasn’t through when he ran in the Counties Bowl, but he’s come on a lot from that and he looks really well.

“He enjoyed his day out and nice hit-out. It was perfect leading into the Railway.”

Bostonian has won seven of his 10 starts and he is unbeaten in his four appearances since finishing sixth in last year’s Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton.

He picked up a hat trick of wins during a Queensland winter campaign last June, beginning with victory in the Listed Daybreak Lover (1200m) and culminating in a strong win in the Gr.3 Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m).

After a good spell, he was a trials winner at Cambridge on November 8 then followed with an impressive fresh-up win in the Listed Counties Bowl (1100m) at Pukekohe 16 days later.

Colgan has been Bostonian’s regular rider this campaign and gave Pike a glowing report after the exhibition gallop.

“Vinnie said he was relaxed today and felt good,” Pike said .