Special day for Gillies

Century Miss, pictured winning at Ellerslie last start with Michael Coleman aboard, will be Matt Gillies’ first runner as a co-trainer when she competes at Matamata today.

It will be a special moment for successful jumps jockey Matt Gillies when last-start Century Miss lines up in the first event at Matamata today.

The four-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman will be Gillies’ first official runner in his new role as co-trainer with Cambridge horseman Graham Thomas having had his trainer’s licence granted within the last few days.

And if Century Miss fails to give Gillies a dream start to his training career in the first event, the G. & S. McKenzie Ltd Bulk Transport 2000, he gets another opportunity to strike in the last race, the Matamata Mitre 10 2000, with Raisedinasandpit.

Century Miss has always been held in high regard by the stable and she broke through for a well-deserved maiden win over 2160 metres at Tauranga on August 23 and she did it in style, winning by five and a quarter lengths.

The victory came in her fourth start and followed a couple of seconds, the first over 1600 at Matamata and the other in her middle-distance debut over 2100 at Tauranga.

She went from her Tauranga win to finish an unlucky fourth behind Arite Guru over 2200 metres at Pukekohe. On that occasion she was blocked for a run in the home straight, but luck went her way last start at Ellerslie when she proved too good for her rivals over 2100 metres.

Thomas has been keen to give Century Miss a quiet campaign this time around, but she has obviously pleased the stable with her progress from her win a fortnight ago to be a leading contender in today’s event, in which she will be ridden for the first time by Matt Cameron.

“Next autumn – winter she’s going to be a lovely mare,” said Thomas.

While Century Miss stands out as the stable’s brightest hope today, Raisedinasandpit also warrants respect on a wet track.

Raisedinasandpit is reverting to the flat after finishing second in her hurdles debut at Te Aroha 13 days ago and she does have sound recent flat form, having preceding her good jumps effort with another couple of seconds over ground.

She was beaten by last Wednesday’s Te Awamutu Cup winner Jayla Monet over 2000 metres at Matamata on August 30 then chased Dontbreakmyheart (an opponent again today) home over 2200 at Rotorua.

Lynsey Satherley was aboard Raisedinasandpit at the last Matamata meeting and will be in the saddle again today when attempting to guide the eight-year-old Istidaad mare to her sixth win.

In joining in the training ranks, Gillies is following in the footsteps of his father, Stephen, uncles Tony and the late Michael and grandfather, the late Jim Gillies. All were also successful jumps jockeys.

Gillies (32), won the jumps jockeys’ premiership in 2013-14 and has ridden 85 winners during a career that includes nine black-type wins.

Flashback: Matt Gillies saluting the judge after winning the first leg of his memorable 2011 Great Northern double aboard Southern Countess in the GN Hurdles at Ellerslie.

The highlight of his career in the saddle came in 2011 when he won the Great Northern double at Ellerslie, taking the Hurdles on Southern Countess for Matamata trainer Peter Brosnan and the Steeplechase on the Ann Browne owned and trained Ima Heroine.

It was a repeat of the double he had on the two horses a fortnight earlier at the Pakuranga Hunt Cup meeting and making the Great Northern effort even more notable was the fact he rode both winners when suffering a broken wrist, which was diagnosed a couple of days later.

Gillies has not ridden raceday since last winter. He bowed out on a winning note when scoring for Kevin Myers aboard Crash Bandicoot at Te Aroha 12 months ago. He enjoyed a successful association with the powerful Myers stable winning 30 races, including the 2015 Grand National Hurdles at Riccarton on Tallyho Twinkletoe.

Gillies has been helping Thomas out for several months and his inclusion in a partnership is a reward for being such an asset to the stable.

“He’s a very knowledgeable guy and he’s going to help us a lot,” said Thomas when putting forward Gillies’ application. “I think we’re in for a good season. We’ve got some nice young horses coming through.”

With only a handful or so of horses currently racing, Thomas has had four winners from just 15 starts this season.

He has prepared 107 winners since taking out a licence 17 years ago and his best tally for a season is 13, recorded twice (2011-12 and 2014-25). He has prepared a couple of black-type winners from his moderate-sized team, the latest being Mangaroa Flo Jo last April when winning the Gr.3 Manawatu Breeders Stakes at Trentham.

Mangaroa Flo Jo has since added the ITM Interprovincial Challenge fresh-up at New Plymouth last August to her tally of wins, which now stand at seven, and she followed up with a solid fifth two starts ago in the Listed Haunui Farm Karaka Classic.

Thomas is already on a par with last season’s tally of four wins and with a promising young team, plus proven older horses such as Mangaroa Flo Jo and Meeska Mooska, he and Gillies can look forward to a successful innings.

The stable’s four wins have come via La Foi, Century Miss, and, of course, Mangaroa Flo Jo.

La Foi showed much promise when capping a couple of placings with a determined maiden win in testing ground at Avondale last month, while Century Miss has been the biggest contributor to the stable’s tally with her two wins.

Pike predicts bright future for Mulanchi

Mulanchi (Mark Du Plessis) with all four hooves off the ground and flying to his first win at Taupo last Wednesday.

Cambridge three-year-old Mulanchi lived up to the form book when breaking through for his first win at Taupo last Wednesday.

The Makfi colt had looked smart when winning a Te Teko trial last July then finished third on debut over 1000 metres at Taupo last month and form from that event shaped up well this week.

The winner that day was debutante Bevan Street, a highly regarded member of Stephen Marsh’s team who had been unbeaten in his two trials, while the runner-up was Kapoor, who followed up with a strong win in the preceding event last Wednesday.

With that form on the board, Mulanchi stood out as the horse to beat in the Kiwi Kontractors 1300 and with Mark Du Plessis riding him positively he lived up to expectations.

Du Plessis urged him along to dispute the lead on the outer in the early stages then settled him second at the 1000 metres and challenging for the lead approaching the home turn.

Racing in the NZ Thoroughbred Holdings’ colours of owner-breeder Gerry Harvey, Mulanchi took over on straightening and after being a couple of lengths clear halfway down the home straight he kept going strongly to win by three-quarters of a length.

“Obviously the form has stacked up out of the last meeting here at Taupo,” said Pike. “The 1000 metres was a bit sharp and we rode him upside down from the inside gate. He led that day and got a bit tired.

“He relaxed nicely outside the leader today and showed a good turn of foot.

“He’s a really promising three-year-old. Whether it’s this preparation I’m not sure, but he’ll go on to bigger and better things later.

“He could have been a (2000) Guineas chance if he got going earlier, but we’ve probably run out of time. Like everyone, we’ve had trouble getting these three-year-olds up with all the wet weather.”

Bird shows the way

Show Bird (Lynsey Satherley) giving her rivals a galloping lesson at Taupo last Wednesday.

It was a case of second time lucky when Margaret and Tim Carter sent their promising filly Show Bird back to Taupo this week.

Show Bird, a daughter of Showcasing, had looked very promising when beating the well-regarded Naval Brigade in a Cambridge trial last March, but had no joy in her raceday debut at Taupo last month.

She jumped away awkwardly and raced ungenerously in the middle stages and wound up seventh of the nine runners in the 1000-metre event won by Ricky Baker, who went on to complete a double with a solid win at Taupo this week.

Show Bird also returned to Taupo last Wednesday and she showed her true colours in the ITM/G.F. Galbraith Memorial 1000 with Lynsey Satherley again in the saddle.

“I said to Lynsey to use her inside draw,” said Margaret Carter. “Forget last start. It was a non-event basically. She was distracted in the gates and missed the kick and everything went to custard from there.

“We came back today to have another crack at it and got the lollies. She’s got a lot of talent.”

Satherley rode to instructions, bouncing Show Bird out to lead and she never gave up that position.

After being a couple of lengths clear at the 200 metres Show Bird kicked on strongly to win by a length and a half from the favourite, the Tony Pike-trained Sacredvista with the Civilised (prepared by Lee Somervell) completing yet another Cambridge trifecta on the programme.

Kapoor another reliable stakes contender

Kapoor (Alysha Collett) stretching out well at Taupo to confirm her tilt at the Listed Soliloquy Stakes.

Kapoor has added to the strength of in-form sire Reliable Man’s representatives in important black-type competition with a courageous maiden win at Taupo last Wednesday.

The three-year-old grey daughter of Reliable Man capped off a couple of placings in her first four starts with a decisive length and a quarter win over the fast-finishing My Dakota (from Stephen Marsh’s barn) in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series 1300. And completing the trifecta for Cambridge stables was Grand Soleil (trained by Tony Pike) with another from the centre, the Chris Wood-prepared Swissilicious fourth.

Kapoor’s win has kept her in the running for the Gr.1 $300,000 Gavelhouse.com NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 18 and beforehand she will get her first opportunity at black-type in the Listed Partners Life Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie on October 28.

Kapoor’s Taupo wins continues a successful recent innings being experienced by Westbury Stud’s Reliable Man.

Reliable Man’s son Main Stage, trained by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, won Listed UCI Stakes (1800m) at Flemington last weekend to move into favouritism for the Gr.1 AAMI Victoria Derby at Flemington on November 4, while stablemate Sully, another of the Reliable Man progeny, was a highly creditable third in the Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick and is also among the leading contenders for the 2500-metre classic.

Yet another Reliable Man winner in Australia last week was Reliable Dame, from Anthony Freedman’s stable. She scored her maiden win at Ballarat and is now on target for the Gr.1 VRC Oaks.

Reliable Man was the winner of the Gr.1 French Derby and made his mark in Australia when beating the great galloper Dundeel in his Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes win at Randwick from the stable of Chris Waller. It therefore comes as no surprise that his progeny are shaping as exciting stayers, but he has also proving his mark with shorter-distance contestants..

The Emma-Lee and David Browne-trained Belle Du Nord, runner-up in last season’s Gr.1 Manawatu Breeders’ Stakes and a trials winner at Ruakaka this week, is among the entries for the Gr.1 $300,000 Gavelhouse.com NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas (1600m) and the Gr.1 As Basti Equiworld NZ 2000 Guineas a week earlier.

Kapoor is prepared at Cambridge by John Bell, who has always held the filly in high regard and, though pleased with her lead-up run for second behind the highly rated Bevan Street at Taupo last month, knew she had to step up with a winning performance last Wednesday to be in contention for black-type assignments.

“She’s improved a lot and we couldn’t be happier with her,” said Bell in a pre-race interview. “She’s being set for the Soliloquy and she’s got a nom for Christchurch. She has to front up today to warrant those sorts of races.”

Kapoor lived right up to expectations and she didn’t get an easy time.

She bounced out well for rider Alysha Collett and led but was then taken on in front and after giving up the lead briefly she was again disputing the pace at the 600 metres and attacked again before leading on the turn. She then drew clear at the 150 metres and held on well to score a deserved win.

“We went to Game Plan two,” said Collett. “We wanted to get cover first, but we jumped out and had enough speed and there wasn’t the greatest tempo early so I let her lead.

“There was a bit of competition around the corner, but that helped hold her in. She let down nicely and really improved on her 1000-metre run here last start. She’s improved massively since last start.”

Bell was delighted with the win and is looking forward to tackling the bigger races with her.

“She’s a Reliable Man out of a winning Gold Brose mare,” said Bell. “Gerard Mosse, a good friend of mine, used to ride Reliable Man and he said to buy as many as you can. They’re going well in Australia.”

Bell bought Kapoor, a daughter of two-race winner Supastar, from the 2016 Festival Yearling Sale at Karaka for $30,000. She traces back to the top-class English performer Lupe, her fourth dam who won the Gr.1 English Oaks, Gr.1 Yorkshire Oaks and Gr.1 Epsom Coronation Cup.

Lupe has been responsible for a host of Group race winners, including Loup Solitaire, juvenile winner of the Gr.1 Longchamp Grand Criterium in France, while Kapoor’s third dam, L’ile Du Reve (by Bold Lad) showed staying talent winning the Gr.3 Cheshire Oaks.

Kapoor has yet to be tried beyond 1300 metres, but Bell has no doubts with her breeding she will get 1600 metres and further.

“She will have sprint in her at a mile and 2000 metres and as she comes through she’ll be a filly to be reckoned with,” he said.

Winning team reunited at Hawera

Chris Johnson weaving his magic in his first ride on Let Her Rip at Rotorua last May.

Chris Johnson and Let Her Rip got on famously when they first teamed up and it could be a similar scenario when they are reunited at Hawera tomorrow.

The champion jockey combined with the Cambridge mare to triumph in the Gr.3 Rotorua Stakes (1400m) in May and this weekend they will defend their unbeaten status in the Gr.3 Rich Hill Stud Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes (1400m).

“We’re happy to have Chris back on and she has come back well from Australia,” said trainer Shaune Ritchie.

In one outing since her Rotorua success, Let Her Rip finished out of the money in the Gr.2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) at Flemington.

“The trip hasn’t done her any harm and she’s ready to rock and roll,” said Ritchie. “She’s beaten fields of this quality before.

“It’s a nice race for her and she can go on any ground through to heavy so it’s not going to worry her.”

Meanwhile, the stable’s Gr.3 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup (3200m) prospect Bee Tee Junior will have one more start before he travels south.

“He’ll go to the Rating 85 over 2100m at Hastings then he’ll run in the penalty-free Metropolitan Trophy on the first day at Riccarton and into the Cup,” said Ritchie.

Bee Tee Junior, who has a win and two seconds from his last three starts, will be accompanied to Christchurch by Where Are You.

The Ekraar mare won for the second time when she was successful over 2200 metres at Te Aroha last start.

Where Are You, who is part-owned by New Zealand lawn bowls representative Gary Lawson, will contest a 2500-metre handicap on the middle day of the carnival.

– NZ Racing Desk.

Naughty boy in good books at Taupo

The “naughty boy” Woodloveto (Troy Harris) storming down the outside to win well at Taupo this week.

Taking the naughty boy out of class and on to several field trips is working the oracle with the latest winner from the Cambridge stable of Sam Logan.

Woodloveto, who cleared maiden ranks in good staying style at Taupo last Wednesday, had that “naughty boy” tag when he arrived at Logan’s stable after beginning his preparation up at Ruakaka with her mother, Donna, and training partner, Chris Gibbs.

Donna Logan bought Woodloveto from the 2015 Select Yearling Sale at Karaka for $38,000 and races the son of Redwood and the Gr.2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes winner For Love (seven wins) with a group of clients.

“He came to me as a bit of a naughty child,” said Sam Logan. “He was on detention. He was up at Ruakaka and he was misbehaving in his work, shying and being silly.”

A change of environment and routine has helped gradually remedy the situation and Logan pays tribute to the work put in by her partner, Craig Thornton, with added input from raceday rider Troy Harris.

“Full credit has to go to Craig,” she said. “He’s ridden the horse from day one since we’ve had him and thanks to Mrs Browne for letting us use her property. All his work has been done up the hill.

“We just took his mind off the racetrack, took his mind off the corners. We did a bit of schooling with him, did a bit of everything – dressage, you name it we’ve done it. It’s all worked and we’re very happy with the outcome.”

Woodloveto had three trials when trained at Ruakaka, the first couple as a late two-year-old, then after a lengthy break he again trialled last January before another spell and going to his new home in Cambridge.

He made his debut from Sam Logan’s stable when a fast-finishing short head second behind Florence Ivy over 1800 metres at Taupo last month and, on the strength of that eye-catching run, punters climbed aboard when he stepped out again on the same course last Wednesday, installing him a $2.60 favourite.

Again with Troy Harris in the saddle, Woodloveto settled behind the three horses vying for the lead in the early stages of the Mills Reef Winery 1800 and had drifted a shade to second-last in the seven-horse field with 900 metres to run.

Harris got to work on the four-year-old at the 600 metres and Woodloveto looked under pressure across the top and was left flat-footed when the leaders sprinted turning for home. But he wound up strongly inside the last 150 metres to carry his supporters through, charging home to grab the lead late to win by a short neck from the John Bell-trained Epae Road.

Harris gave Woodloveto a tick of approval, despite describing him as a work in progress. And Logan was quick to give credit to Harris for his performance on Woodloveto.

“Troy has done a hell of a job,” she said. “He’s a big, real immature horse and he (Harris) gets him balanced and finding the line.

“I knew once he got into the straight and balanced he’d find the line strongly. He’s got a massive action and he just really covers the ground with ease.

“I just love the way he comes off the bridle and keeps finding. For a future staying horse that’s great.

“He’s also lovely bred so he’s going to make it.”

Francaletta ready to bounce back

Francaletta in winning form at Hastings last month. She gets her opportunity to show that talent this weekend.

Smart Cambridge mare Francaletta is ready for redemption.

That’s the view of Cambridge trainer Andrew Forsman as he puts the finishing polish on the five-year-old High Chaparral mare ahead of Saturday’s Gr.3 Rich Hill Stud Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Hawera.

The Lib Petagna-raced Francaletta had only once been beaten leading into her last start in the Gr.3 Boehringer Ingelheim Metric Mile (1550m) at Awapuni, but she could only manage fifth place.

“It was a good effort but probably just a bridge too far, second up after a long break and up to a mile on a testing track,” said Forsman, who trains with Murray Baker.

“We’re pretty forgiving of that run and hoping she can bounce back. We expect her to run very well.

“She’s not well off at weight-for-age but these black-type opportunities in fillies and mares company don’t come around often so you’ve got to have a go.”

Francaletta was to have tackled the Gr.3 Spring Sprint (1400m) at last Saturday’s Hastings meeting but missed out on racing after the meeting was abandoned halfway through the card.

“It was a shame,” said Forsman. “We floated her all the way down there for nothing and we’ve just got to hope this week that the travel doesn’t get to her.”

Francaletta is the stable’s sole runner at Hawera, but the leading trainers have a team of eight entered for Matamata on Saturday, among them Deals In Heels, Eleonora and Grand Rio – all entries for the Gr.2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile at Riccarton on November 15 – and Gr.1 Gavelhouse.com 1000 Guineas (1600m) hopefuls Charli Rose and Serenity.

Victoria Oaks-placegetter Eleonora, served by Savabeel in recent weeks, makes her four-year-old debut in the Listed Team Wealleans Matamata Cup (1600m), having been placed in a trial at Te Awamutu in July only to have her resuming run thwarted by unsuitable heavy tracks in recent weeks.

“A slow track is going to suit her fresh-up,” said Forsman. “We couldn’t be happier with her work, which has really improved in the last few weeks.

“She’s definitely good enough to win but we’d have to be a bit forgiving if she did happen to blow out.”

Deals In Heels has won four of her five starts and has looked an exciting prospect.

“Even in her trackwork, the more she does of anything, the better she gets,” said Forsman.

“She got a bit keen last start, got a bit fizzed up and though she is probably looking for 1400 to 1600 metres now, we’re hoping we can get away with dropping back to 1200m on Saturday.”

Three-year-old fillies Charli Rose and Serenity clash in the Fairview Ford Motors 1400, a race which could see a return match-up in the Listed Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie a fortnight later if both run well.

“Both are still Guineas contenders, having won a race each this preparation. We like them both,” said Forsman.

The remaining stable runners are Street Ranger, Crafty Jess and O’Carol, while in Melbourne, Bonneval and Jon Snow contest Saturday’s Gr.1 A$1 million Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and Lizzie L’Amour tackles Sunday’s Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m).

– NZ Racing Desk.

Bonneval shooting for seven straight

Bonneval on her way to another win in the Gr.1 Underwood Stakes last start. (Photo: Darryl Sherer).

Top-class Cambridge mare Bonneval goes into Saturday’s Gr.1 A$1 million Caulfield Stakes (2000m) in a rich vein of form.

After 10 career starts, the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained daughter of Makfi has won seven, including three Group Ones in her current winning sequence of six.

The dual Oaks winner has captured the imagination of the racing public on both sides of the Tasman and boasts impressive victories in the Gr.2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) and Gr.1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) this campaign.

“She just keeps winning and winning good races. People love a horse that keeps raising the bar and winning impressively,” said Forsman.

Bonneval is disputing Caulfield Stakes favouritism with Hartnell, but she is alone at the top of markets for the Gr.1 A$3 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 21.

“She’s going really well and she’s just about to let go of the last bit of her winter coat so she’s looking good at the right time,” said Forsman.

“She’s shaping like she’s looking for a staying trip, looking for further than the 2000 metres on Saturday, but there’s no doubt she’s got the class to win.

“They rode Hartnell back last time so it will be interesting to see if they go forward with him on Saturday but we’ll be riding our race with both of ours.”

Joining Bonneval in the Caulfield Stakes is Baker and Forsman’s Gr.1 Australian Derby winner Jon Snow, a smart last-start winner of the Gr.3 JRA Cup (2040m) at Moonee Valley and also using Saturday’s race as a lead-up to the Caulfield Cup.

“He’s thrived over there,” said Forsman of the Iffraaj entire.

“The question with him is 2000 metres weight-for-age. He’s not ideally placed because he’s another one now looking for 2400. We’re just looking for another good, solid run from him ahead of the Caulfield Cup.”

Bonneval was already assured of a start in the Caulfield Cup before her Underwood win made her exempt from ballot and Jon Snow has a start guaranteed at sixth spot on the order of entry, but stablemate Lizzie L’Amour remains less certain of a start at 20th on the order for the 18-horse field.

The Zabeel mare will seek to further enhance her chances of a start when she tackles Sunday’s Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m).

“We’re really happy with her. She was unlucky last time at Moonee Valley but she should get her chance on Sunday,” said Forsman.

“If she’s going to be competitive in a Caulfield Cup, she should probably be winning the Cranbourne Cup.

“She needs to show that she deserves her chance and while Cranbourne is a tight-turning track and probably not ideal for her, hopefully she can get the breaks and take advantage of her opportunity.”

– NZ Racing Desk.

Dragon still a Guineas hope

Mark Forbes is still hoping to make a late run to the 2000 Guineas with Dragon.

Promising Cambridge three-year-old Dragon remains in the mix for a trip to Christchurch.

The son of Power’s build-up has been interrupted by a succession of rain-affected tracks, but trainer Mark Forbes is still hopeful of a shot at the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).

“The tracks obviously haven’t played their part and we’re running short of time, but it’s the same for everyone,” he said.

“There’s two races suitable for him at Te Aroha next Wednesday, but it depends on the weather.”

Dragon is unbeaten in two trials and has been placed in both his raceday starts, including a last-start fourth behind the speedster Prom Queen at Ruakaka on September 2.

  • NZ Racing Desk

Devise shaping up in Bonneval’s absence

Bonneval and Devise (inner) fighting out the finish of the Gr.1 Wellfield NZ Oaks.

Devise enjoyed a lucrative three-year-old season and she is impressing trainer Shaune Ritchie as she closes in on a return to racing.

The daughter of Darci Brahma is a two-time winner and finished runner-up to Bonneval in last season’s Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m).

“She looks terrific and she’ll trial at the end of the month and she should be back at the races in November,” said Ritchie. “She’s come back much stronger and her form looks good.”

The half-sister to the multiple stakes winner Zurella was also placed last term behind Bonneval in the Gr.2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic (2000m) and in the Gr.3 Lowland Stakes (2100m).

  • NZ Racing Desk