Rondinella at peak for Tancred

Rondinella is spot on for her biggest test in tomorrow’s Gr.1 Tancred Stakes in Sydney.

Smart Cambridge mare Rondinella is in “faultless condition” ahead of tomorrow’s Gr.1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill.

 That’s the opinion of co-trainer Roger James, who has accompanied Rondinella to Sydney and is rapt with the way she has travelled to Australia and settled in at her Randwick stabling.

A last-start third placegetter in the Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie behind Melody Belle and Danzdanzdance, Rondinella gained a start in the Tancred Stakes from the ballot after Auvray was withdrawn on Wednesday.

James had accepted with the Ocean Park four-year-old for the Gr.3 Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m), but it was always his intention to tackle the Group One feature if she made the field.

“I’m comfortable she’ll get the mile and a half (2400m),’’ James said. ‘’It’s a big step up, but I’ve always held her in high regard and she’s had a lovely preparation. She’s in faultless condition.”

TAB bookmakers have Rondinella as a $14 fourth favourite behind last Saturday’s Gr.1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) winner Avilius at $1.60.

In the Ranvet, Avilius beat home third-placed Danzdanzdance, who finished second ahead of Rondinella in the New Zealand Stakes after the James and Robert Wellwood-trained mare lost crucial ground in a home-turn skirmish.

“It’s fair to say we didn’t get the rub of the green last start,’’ James said. ‘’She featured twice in the stipes report and by the time she got clear in the straight the other two were already off and gone. But to her credit, she’s stuck to her task well and ran the quickest last 200m of the race.”

James said rider Sam Clipperton will likely tuck back from barrier 10 in the Tancred Stakes and he regards the track conditions as the biggest obstacle for Rondinella.

“If there was one thing I could change, it would be the weather,” James said.

– NZ Racing Desk



Two-pronged Group One attack

Aretha appreciated the footing when winning the Gr.2 J. Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes and rates a big chance at Awapuni tomorrow.

Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman will have a two-pronged attack in the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni tomorrow.

 The pair will line up talented colt Holy Mongolemperor and Group Two-winning filly Aretha in the juvenile feature and they are excited about both of their runners chances.

“Aretha and Holy Mongolemperor are two really good chances,” Forsman said.

“I am quite looking forward to seeing how Holy Mongolemperor steps up to the 1400m. It was a really good effort at Trentham (when runner-up to Equinox over 1200m). He’s a colt with a lot of ability that seems to be improving all the time.”

Forsman said he was pleased with both runners heading into the race and finds it hard to split the pair with Holy Mongolemperor drawing eight and Aretha nine.

“On a fast track it’s hard to know,” Forsman said. “Aretha has been very good on rain-affected ground. They have both drawn awkwardly.

“She’s got tactical speed so she can jump and put herself on the pace, whereas he will get back.  But I think if he gets a clear run he could come with a big finish. I am pretty happy with where he is at going into it.”

The Baker-Forsman barn will also line up Group One winner Saint Emilion in the Gr.2 City of Palmerston North Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m).

Forsman said Saint Emilion had been pleasing but luckless in his last few starts and is hoping the wet weather forecast for Palmerston North will stay away.

“He’s really well,” Forsman said. ‘’He has been going well for a while now. He just hasn’t had things to suit on race day unfortunately.

“If the weather holds, he will get things to suit. Hopefully he can jump, roll along and try and get back in the winner’s circle.”

Meanwhile, impressive last start winner Spring Delight looms as the stable’s leading chance in the Gr.3 Higgins Concrete Manawatu Classic (2000m).

She will compete alongside in-form stablemates The Chosen One, Nordic and Lord Arthur.

“The filly Spring Delight was pretty impressive last week (at Tauranga),” Forsman said.

“I think the key is that she has drawn barrier two, whereas all of the boys, while they are all going well, have drawn awkward barriers. The 2000m start is a big run to sort yourself out before that first bend, so they are going to need a bit of luck.

“She seems to have bounced through her impressive win in good order so I guess on the strength of a good barrier draw and knowing that she will get a good run, she is probably the benchmark of the four.”

– NZ Racing Desk

Classic test for Marsh stablemates

Deels Done, a maiden graduate at Pukekohe last month, will be on trial for Australia when racing at Awapuni tomorrow.

A pair of talented three-year-olds in Stephen Marsh’s stable will test the waters in the Gr.3 Higgins Concrete Manawatu Classic (2000m) at Awapuni tomorrow.

Deels Done and Decadence are on an upward trajectory as lightly raced maiden winners.

“Given the timing of their campaigns, the Manawatu Classic fits in perfectly and will give us a good indication of where they are at,” Marsh said.

“If they can compete at this level over ground it opens up options in Australia for them. It is a good test at this early stage of their career.”

The duo are both raced by Go Racing syndicates and have been earmarked as classic types.

A gelding by Dundeel, Deels Done will be considered for a Derby campaign in Queensland or South Australia, while Decadence, a filly by Sweet Orange, will look at the Oaks in both aforementioned States.

  • NZ Racing Desk

Oliveira’s advice key to success

Alex Oliveira will be keeping close tabs on Deerfield, who will be out to complete a hat trick of wins at Awapuni tomorrow.

Cambridge trainer Alex Oliveira can take some of the credit for the emergence of talented Foxton-trained Deerfield.

Deerfield will be chasing a hat trick of wins when he contests the L.J. Hooker Premier, a rating 72 1400m at Awapuni tomorrow, having followed up a debut second at Wanganui last month with wins at Awapuni and Trentham over 1200m and 1400m respectively.

Deerfield, a son of Falkirk bred by the Dennis brothers of Southland, began his career at Cambridge with Oliveira, who produced him for two educational trials in May 2017 before back problems delayed his raceday debut.

“His owner lives in Hong Kong and he (Deerfield) had been up at Alex Oliveira’s in Cambridge and he had him since he was a yearling,’’ said trainer Chris Bambry,

‘’He had a few back issues, but they always thought he could gallop.

“He kept going sore on them so Alex actually recommended he come down here because we have the water treadmill.

“He was fit when he came down and we gave him a trial and a jumpout before his race and he won them both. I had him probably eight weeks before his first start for us. He hasn’t really looked back since.”

If ever there was an ambassador for the benefits of the Bambry family’s water treadmill Deerfield is certainly it.

Bambry said the post-race routine is fairly straight-forward and Deerfield has continued to flourish since his last-start win at Trentham.

“He does the majority of his work on the water treadmill and he has only been ridden twice since his last win,” she said.

“That seems to be working for him and keeping the weight off his back seems to be the key to it.”

Bambry has elected to keep Deerfield stepping through the grades and opted for the Rating 72 event over a Listed race on the same program, believing the chestnut still has plenty of room for improvement.

“His coat probably isn’t quite there yet and he is still very green and he doesn’t know a lot,” she said. “He is basically like a three-year-old running in a five-year-old body. There is plenty of room for improvement in him and I think he will probably get up to a mile.

“We will just take each race as it comes and hopefully he can get through the grades.

“He is a great advertisement for the water treadmill. We pre-train a few and do a lot of rehab work, but it shows that once they are fit it can really keep them at that peak fitness level.”

Bambry will also have an eye on the fortunes of a recent water treadmill beneficiary, Platinum Invador, who contests the Gr.2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) in Sydney tomorrow.

“We have some really good clients that continue to use it,” Bambry said.

“Lisa Latta, Lincoln Farm and Neville McAllister are good supporters and it is great that Lisa entrusted us with the likes of Platinum Invador and (NZ Oaks winner) Sentimental Miss, who just went back to the stable this morning.’’


Checkers another Morton triumph for trainers

Craig Grylls guiding Checkers to a strong win at Matamata last Wednesday.

Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman know how to win good races for Queensland’s Morton family.

Baker prepared Prized Gem for Mrs Billie Morton to win nine races and over $1 million with the highlights being a couple of Group Ones, the  Brisbane Cup and the Kelt Capital Stakes (both in 2002).

He then produced Prized Gem’s son, Nom du Jeu, to win the Gr.1 Australian Derby and be runner-up in the 2008 Gr.1 Caulfield Cup after finishing second to Princess Coup in the Gr.1 Stoney Bridge Stakes (1600m) and third to Princess Coup and Red Ruler in the Gr.1 Kelt Capital Stakes (2040m).

Baker and Forsman were then to the fore with Neo (by One Cool Cat) winning the 2012 Gr.2 Wellington Guineas and recording several black-type placings for Morton’s son, Glenn, and his wife, Lisa.

And at Matamata last Wednesday the Baker-Forsman stable continued the link when training Checkers, a son of Nom du Jeu owned by Glenn and Lisa Morton, to register his first win in the Pearson Engineering 1200.

Checkers had been placed in his other two starts, finishing second on debut to In Fashion at Wanganui last month then third to First Rock at Matamata a fortnight ago, and he did well to score this week after being trapped wide throughout.

‘’He was three and four-wide the whole way so it was a big effort,’’ said Forsman after the race. ‘’He’d just been a bit weak, but he wasn’t weak today. He could develop into a nice three-year-old.’’

Glenn and Lisa Morton have already celebrated international major race success as breeders with Neo’s half-brother Ping Hai Star (by Nom du Jeu), who won two of his Australian starts known as Ted and later won the 2018 Hong Kong Derby after being sold to clients of John Size’s stable.

Now another of their Nom du Jeu progeny could join the black type winners list with Checkers being a likely candidate for feature races this year.

“We’ve pegged him as a Guineas horse for next season but meantime he could be a chance in a race like the Champagne Stakes over 1600m,’’ said Forsman. “He’s improving and could race on a bit more this campaign.’’

The Listed $50,000 Buffalo & Co Champagne Stakes (1600m) is at Ellerslie on April 20 and last year Baker and Forsman provided the quinella in the event which was switched to Pukekohe with Rubira beating Ole Ole.


Mansour showing his talent

Donavan Mansour timing his run nicely to win on The Faith at Matamata yesterday.

South African jockey Donavan Mansour’s career in New Zealand is on an upward spiral, as he showed again at Matamata yesterday.

Donavan had a full book of rides on the day and he was seen at his best winning on the Tony Pike stablemates The Faith and Five Stars and he also picked up seconds on Enrichment and Helena Baby, a third on Dam Reliable and a fourth on Ima Dandy Dude on the eight-race programme.

Mansour’s hard work since arriving to ride for Graeme Rogerson last year has helped get him noticed in New Zealand, but it is his shift to regularly ride work at Cambridge that has been the major boost to his profile.

‘’I was happy at Rogey’s and he gave me opportunities,’’ said Mansour. ‘’I’ll always be grateful to him, but I felt to get more opportunities I had to branch out a bit more so I’ve been riding work at Cambridge for three months and that’s really helped.

‘I ride a couple in work each morning for Murray Baker (and Andrew Forsman) then do six for Tony Pike. I’ve been getting more rides and getting on some nice horses.”

The Brendan Hawtin-trained It’s Doable was Mansour’s first win since riding work at the Cambridge centre when scoring at Rotorua on January 16 and the 34-year-old’s winning tally now stands at 11 for the season.

Five Stars (Donavan Mansour) unleashing a winning run at Matamata yesterday,

The talent which has seen him win over 400 races and be champion jockey during a three-year stint in Mauritius was evident yesterday with his patient rides on the Tony Pike-trained stablemates The Faith and Five Stars.

He got The Faith home by a length in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series 1400 and guided Five Stars to a half-length win in the following event, the AA Auto Services Matamata 1400, to give Pike the first two of three wins on the card. Pike also won the last race with Harbourside, ridden by Troy Harris.

The Faith, a black filly by Denman, was having her fifth start and had suggested a win was close when a solid-finishing fifth behind Choctoc at Matamata a fortnight earlier.

“She’s still growing and getting stronger,’’ said Mansour. “She won well and she’ll improve.’’

Five Stars,  a three-year-old gelding by Highly Recommended, is also lightly tried and an improver. He was having his fourth start and had been unlucky with Mansour in the saddle when fourth to Dam Reliable at the earlier Matamata meeting.

Mansour also has a strong book of seven rides at Ellerslie on Saturday, including Wild Like, Walkin’ By, Sacred Delight and Stella Noire for Pike. He is also on the talented Yearn for Matamata trainer Karen Fursdon in the open sprint, the Peter and Dawn Williams-trained Destination and Evana Rahma for Shaune Ritchie.

Exciting new sire to Cambridge area

Staphanos, the replacement sire for the ill-fated Jakkalkberry at Novara Park.

Group One performer Staphanos will join the stallion ranks of Novara Park Stud, just outside of Cambridge, in the new season.

A winner as a juvenile, the son of Deep Impact went on to record a trio of victories as a three-year old, defeating subsequent Japanese Horse of the Year and stallion Maurice at Kyoto before rounding off his campaign with victory in the Gr.3 Tokyo Fuji Stakes (1600m).

As a four-year-old he was runner-up in the Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin before returning to Japan to finish runner-up in the Gr.1 Tenno Sho (2000m) at Tokyo.

His five- and six-year-old seasons yielded a further three placings at Group One level, including the Gr.1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m).

The acquisition of Staphanos follows on from the loss of promising young sire Jakkalberry, who was the foundation stallion for Luigi Muollo’s Novara Park Stud.

“We were on the lookout for a highly-ranked Group One racehorse to replace Jakkalberry, who died last year,” Novara park manager Ray Knight said.

“We looked at a large number of stallion prospects for 2018, but none ticked all the boxes, so we decided to wait for the right one.

“Staphanos fits all the criteria we set when selecting a stallion – performance, pedigree, physique and commercial appeal.

“His ranking in Japan as one of the best three, four, five and six-year-olds is unmatched. He was a multiple Group One performer in Japan and represented his country as a multiple Group One performer in Hong Kong.

“Staphanos is an outstanding and correct physical type and full of quality.”

Staphanos is a son of Deep Impact, one of the world’s great stallions, having sired 39 individual Group One winners and 10.4 percent stakes winners to runners.

Staphanos’ three-time winning dam, Kokoshnik, is by successful Japanese stallion Kurofune, who hails from the immediate family of New Zealand-raced mare and Gr.1 Great Northern Oaks (2400m) winner Catania.

Staphanos is a sibling to four winners, including the stakes-placed Finift, while his multiple Listed-winning granddam Gold Tiara is a half-sister to the late Darley shuttle stallion Poet’s Voice, whose progeny include Gr.1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) hero Trap For Fools.

“He is by the world’s hottest sire Deep impact who has an advertised service fee of NZ$540,000 and is greatly sought after by all our main international markets,” Knight said. “This is a fantastic opportunity for the New Zealand breeding industry to access a top-class racehorse with a globally pedigree.”

Staphanos will stand for a service fee of NZ$7000 plusGST and joins the roster of the emerging breeding operation which also stands young Lonhro sire Sweynesse.

– NZ Racing Desk





More in store for popular stable owner

Harbourside (Troy Harris) holding out Dance Card to score a deserved win at Matamata yesterday for part-owner Alan Collie, who is hoping for further success this weekend.

Cambridge trainer Tony Pike has a large host of owners on his books and one of the most deserving winners was toasting success at Matamata yesterday.

Alan Collie, a stalwart of the Pike stable, was on course to celebrate the breakthrough win of Harbourside in the Happy 80th Wally Henderson Maiden 1600 and that could be the start of a big few days for him.

With a bit of luck Collie could be in for a repeat at Ellerslie on Saturday, not once but twice. He is a  part-owner of Wild Like in the second event, the Skycity Auckland 1400, and Stella Noire in the sixth race, the Vector Wero Whitewater Park R65 1200m.

Collie is more than just a stalwart of the Pike stable. He is considered the right-hand man around the Pike stable and integral to the success of the operation, says Pike’s mother, Vicki.

“We’d be lost without him,’’ she said. ‘’He’s a real asset to Tony and is a long-time family friend.”

Collie’s day starts at 3.30am with making up the feeds for all the horses and later he picks up a rake to do some “mucking out” and whatever is needed around the stable.

‘’I love doing it all,’’ he said. ‘’I love being with the horses and it’s great to see them winning, especially the ones I’ve got a share in.”

Collie’s biggest success as an owner over the years was with Taking The Mickey, whom he bred and raced. He won eight races and over $300,000 in prizemoney with the highlight coming in the 2009 Gr.3 Winter Cup at Riccarton.

‘’I’ve always had a horse or two and now I’ve got shares in three with Tony,’’ said Collie.

“Tony buys them from the sales and if I like the look of them I’ll take a share. It’s too expensive to race one on my own now.’’

Collie was obviously thrilled to see Harbourside quit maiden class yesterday after being runner-up in five of his previous nine starts, as well as picking up a couple of fourths. Three of those seconds had been at Matamata and in two of them he was beaten a mere short head.

“He certainly deserved this win,’’ said Collie. “He’s still learning, but he’s shown enough.’’

Harbourside, a son of Harbour Watch, looked the winner when he ranged up early in the run home for rider Troy Harris and, despite being pressured late by Dance Card on the inside, he held on to score by a head.

Collie’s attention will now switch to Ellerslie on Saturday and focus on Stella Noire, who was on the ballot when acceptances closed but looks likely to slip into the field, and Wild Like.

Stella Noire, a daughter of Showcasing, looked smart as a two-year-old when winning on debut at Ellerslie on Boxing Day 2017, but has had more than her share of setbacks since then and has started just another three times with two of those appearances being in black type company.

She finished eighth fresh-up in a Listed event at Hastings then got hampered when sixth on the same course three weeks later in the Gr.3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m). She was then off the scene until a trial last month and after another trial she resumed with an encouraging fourth to Not Usual June at Te Aroha on March 15 when held up in the home straight.

Wild Like, a three-year-old gelding by Dalgar, is also on the verge of success with a last-start second at Rotorua in his third start.

‘’I think he could be the best of all of them,’’ said Collie.


Second take for Madison County

Madison County is on track to run at Rosehill on Saturday, but a question mark hangs over the track condition.

It will be “Take Two’’ for multiple Group One-winning three-year-old Madison County at Rosehill on Saturday when he lines-up in the Gr.2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m).

The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained gelding was withdrawn from last week’s Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) after a float incident.

“He basically just rubbed himself in the float and had a bit of an abrasion around his hip area,” Forsman said.

“It just took the skin off.  It was a little bit raw. He was vetted when he got on course and he wasn’t lame, but it was probably moreso not a good look to send the horse out to race.

“He was second favourite so there was a bit of money invested. They couldn’t take the risk to let him start, but he hasn’t missed any work and seems fine so we are all good to go and hopefully he travels sensibly on Saturday.”

Last Saturday’s withdrawal has continued Madison County’s bad spate of luck in recent times.

“Nothing has gone right,” Forsman said. “The pending sale fell over and because of that he missed a run in the Herbie Dyke (Gr.1, 2000m) and missed the run leading into the Randwick (Guineas, 1600m) and now he’s missed the run in the Rosehill Guineas. It certainly hasn’t been plain sailing, but, all that being said, he is very well.”

Madison County is likely to be met by similar wet track conditions to last weekend at Rosehill on Saturday, but Forsman is hoping the track will improve a bit before they jump.

“It was very testing that track last Saturday and hopefully it improves a little bit throughout the week and isn’t such a holding sort of track,” he said.

“I’m a little bit unsure as to how he will handle it, but he has worked up well on wet tracks before.”

The son of Pins has drawn the visitor’s barrier in the 10-horse field, but that doesn’t overly concern Forsman who is expecting a strong showing from his talented galloper.

“It is a bit awkward (the barrier),” Forsman said. “His pattern of racing is to get back and just to find his feet a little bit, but I guess it is only a 10-horse field and it will be interesting to see how the track plays after that racing last Saturday.

“I am picking they will come to the middle of the track pretty quickly anyway so it shouldn’t be too much of a disadvantage.

“The Kiwis are probably the ones to beat and outside of that it drops away. We would be pretty disappointed if he wasn’t running top three. It will just be interesting to see how he runs out the 2000m.”

– NZ Racing Desk

Focus now on Ardrossan

Ardrossan produced an encouraging trial at Warwick Farm last Friday to be on track for a Group Three mission on Saturday.

Stephen Marsh’s focus on the rich Sydney Autumn Carnival will now switch to a feature sprint after having no joy last weekend with his staying three-year-olds.

The Cambridge trainer is hoping to have better luck with Ardrossan in the Gr.3 Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday after Crown Prosecutor and Vernanme both failed to threaten in the Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m).

Crown Prosecutor, a son of Medaglia D’Oro, was unable to reproduce the form that saw him score a major upset win in the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) and finished ninth, while Vernanme (by O’Reilly) wound up second-last of the 12 runners.

Marsh has pulled the pin on a tilt at the Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 6 with both talented three-year-olds.

“They’re both coming home for a spell,’’ Marsh said. “They’ll have a good break and we’ll look at spring racing for them.

“In Crown Prosecutor’s case, you’ll not see a lot of him in New Zealand next season as he’ll go over to Australia early in his next campaign.

“He’s done a good job and we had a crack in Sydney, but he’s ready for a spell now, while Vernanme is a horse with a future, too. He’s growing a bit and he’ll end up a good horse.’’

While in Sydney, Marsh was able to cast his eye over Ardrossan, who missed a planned first-up run in the Gr.1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick after recording an elevated temperature upon on arrival from New Zealand.

The son of Redoute’s Choice showed he was back on track when second in an open 801m trial at Warwick Farm last Friday.

‘’He got crook on the way over and he missed a bit of work after that,’’ Marsh said.

‘’He’s a good-doing bugger and he needed a hit-out so we ran him in the trial last Friday. James (McDonald) rode him and he was happy with the way he felt and ran.

‘’This race on Saturday will tighten him up again and there’s the Queensland carnival just around the corner so we could look at that. But we’ll get through Saturday first before making any plans.

‘’He wants a good track to show his best and that’s a bit of a worry the way the weather has been in Sydney lately.’’

Ardrossan left New Zealand as a winner of the Gr.3 Concorde Handicap (1200m) at Ellerslie and a last-start third behind Melody Belle in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa.

While Ardrossan will be chasing Gr.3 honours in Sydney on Saturday, stablemate Glinda Goodwitch is likely to represent Marsh in the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni the same day.

The Per Incanto filly has been placed in two of her three starts and between times finished seventh in her first black type assignment, the Gr.2 Matamata Breeders Stakes (1200m).

“She’s made it into the Sires’ field so we’re probably going to have a go,’’ Marsh said.

‘’She ran second to Equinox (who won again last start) first-up and was a good second last time. The only time she missed was when she struck a wet track in the Breeders Stakes. She desperately needs a good track.’’

Marsh plans to also have two starters, Decadence and Deels Done, in another of the Awapuni features, the  Gr.3 Higgins Concrete Manawatu Classic (2000m).

Decadence, a Sweet Orange filly, capped some useful form with a last-start win over 1600m at Te Aroha, while Deels Done, a three-year-old gelding by Dundeel, won two starts ago at Pukekohe over 1600m.