Another Oaks bid for Ritchie filly

Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie is attempting to win the New Zealand Oaks for the third time.

Ritchie first won the race in 2010 with Keep The Peace then two years later he picked up the quinella with Artistic and Zurella and now his focus is on Chop Chop, a daughter of Guillotine who took her record to two wins from five starts when scoring a stylish win in the Gazley Premier at Trentham yesterday.

“It’s onwards and upwards to the Oaks now,” said Ritchie as he waited for rider Leith Innes to unsaddle the promising filly. “It was a good effort today because she probably got to the front a bit early. She’s a better chaser.”

Chop Chop dwelt at the start of the 1600-metre event and settled back, but when Innes asked to to unleash in the run home she responded well to surge to the front then hold out a spirited late bid from Minnaleo, another back-runner.

“We got back further than I wanted but it could have been a blessing,” said Innes. “She’s a promising filly.”

Chop Chop was bred and is raced by Simon Nimblett and had shown ability from the outset, winning her first two trials. The first of those trials was at Paeroa as a late two-year-old and the other at Cambridge last September.

She was fifth on debut at Avondale last October then showed a touch of class when flashing home for second behind Rising Romance at Dargaville. That form has stacked up well as Rising Romance has since won two black-type races, including the Gr. 2 NZ Bloodstock Royal Stakes, and finished third to Hera in the Gr. 2 Eight Carat Classic.

Chop Chop picked up a further placing in her third start, when chasing the Great Northern Guineas winner Show The World home at Tauranga then preceded her Trentham win with a maiden victory over 1600 metres at Otaki.

Ritchie is now likely to step Chop Chop up in distance to give her a further test for the Gr. 1 $300,000 Wellfield New Zealand Oaks at Trentham on March 15.