Cambridge on another Group One roll

Sangster’s win at Te Rapa last Saturday has maintained the Cambridge racing centre’s roll towards another highly successful Group One season.

Sangster credited his trainers, Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, with their first Group One success in the VRC Derby last season and he bounced back to that form with an authoritative win in the Group I Darci Brahma International Stakes.

The son of Savabeel became the sixth individual Group One winner from Cambridge this season and with nine more Group One races to be run there is a strong chance of further success at the top level for Cambridge and Sangster, who is now a leading candidate for the Group I Auckland Cup.

The 2010-11 season was a record one for Cambridge with seven Group One winners coming from the centre and being responsible for 10 races at the top level.

Last season there were six Group One winners of nine Group One races, including Sangster and Veyron, another who has added to this season’s tally. And judging by the candidates for the upcoming features it would be no surprise to see another record season for Cambridge.

Though Group One success eluded Cambridge horses at the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival, there were notable Group One placings by Fleur de Lune (second to Mufhasa in the Windsor Park Stud Plate) and Guiseppina and He’s Remarkable (second and third respectively behind Shez Sinsational in the NZB Spring Classic).

The unbeaten Sacred Falls, from Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue’s stable, and Rollout The Carpet, prepared by Jeff McVean and his daughter, Emma-Lee Browne, started the Group One ball rolling for Cambridge with wins at the NZ Cup meeting. Sacred Falls took the Sothy’s NZ 2000 Guineas and Rollout The Carpet and Sacred Falls’ stablemate Waterford provided a Cambridge quinella in the NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas.

Veyron, last season’s Cambridge Horse Of The Year, chimed in with an impressive win in the Group I Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day and the bonny mare Fleur de Lune broke through for the first Group One success for both herself and her trainer, Lee Somervell, in the Sistema Railway Stakes on New Year’s Day.

Gary Alton then enjoyed the thrill of his first Group One success when Historian took the Harcourt’s Thorndon Mile, beating another Cambridge galloper, Lady Kipling, who had earlier also been runner-up in the Group I Captain Cook Stakes to the wonderful South Island mare Final Touch.

Another Cambridge quinella came from last Saturday’s Darci Brahma International Stakes as Dolmabache chased Sangster home.
Final Touch, trained at Balcairn in North Canterbury by Karen and John Parsons, has been the Group One queen this season with three wins at top level. Her second Group One win was the Telegraph Handicap and the latest at Te Rapa last Saturday when taking the Waikato Draught Sprint, in which Cambridge mare Zurella flashed home for third.

The other Group One races already held this season are the Makfi Challenge Stakes and the Levin Classic, both won by Matamata gallopers (Ocean Park and Southern Lord). But when it comes to leading Group One areas Cambridge is clear in front with six Group One wins, ahead of Balcairn (three), Matamata two and Taranaki and Ardmore one apiece.

And don’t forget the country’s richest race, the Karaka Million, has also fallen to a Cambridge galloper, the immensely exciting Ruud Awakening, who will give Cambridge a great chance of further Group One glory when she contests the Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie next month.

The other Group One races yet to be run in New Zealand are the Haunui Farm Group One WFA Classic (Otaki), NZ Derby, NZ Stakes, NZ Oaks, Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes, Fiber Fresh Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (at Te Aroha), Easter Handicap and, of course, the Auckland Cup.

The Auckland Cup has been the centre of focus for Sangster since he began work this campaign and Busuttin and Young have been confident he will be at his peak for the 3200-metre feature, in which former stablemate Six O’Clock News ran third last year.

Sangster won in such convincing fashion last weekend to suggest he can win again, in the Avondale Cup, and with just 54.5kg on his back, be a huge chance to go a couple better than Six O’Clock News next month.