Concern over strength of James’ Eight Carat attack

Hera and Lady Cumquat may have to fill in for Miss Foxwood in the Gr. 2 $100,000 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

The two fillies are set to clash in tomorrow’s Listed $50,000 Trevor Eagle Memorial at Ellerslie and top performances will see them have a further rematch in the three-year-old fillies feature on the first day of the Auckland Racing Club’s summer carnival. But the prospects of stablemate Miss Foxwood joining them on Boxing Day are looking very slim.

Trainer Roger James admits he may be forced to change plans with Miss Foxwood after her trip to the NZ Cup meeting, at which she finished fourth in the Gr. 1 NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas.

“The track was woefully hard down there and it looks as though it could have cost Miss Foxwood a start in the Eight Carat,” said James. “She was so muscle sore after the race. You only had to touch her on the neck, chest or back and she really felt it.

“She was on anti-inflammatories for four days and did look a bit better, but she’s still pretty ordinary.

“She’s still in the paddock at present and I hope to get her back in the stable on Monday. I’ll walk her for a few days and see if she improves. She’d have to improve a lot to have any chance of getting to the Eight Carat.”

James McDonald made the trip from Sydney to Riccarton to ride Miss Foxwood after being impressed with her performance for third behind Bounding and Spellbinder in the Gr. 3 James and Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes at Te Rapa on October 28.

Stablemate Full Of Spirit, who also made the trip south, is spelling after her fifth behind Scapolo in the Gr. 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile.

“She’s having three months off and will then get ready for an autumn preparation,” said James. “We’ll look at races like the Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Te Aroha and maybe the Easter Handicap.”

James has a strong squad entered for Ellerslie tomorrow with the main focus being on Hera and Lady Cumquat in the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial and The Tidy Express, who is an acceptor in both the Gr. 3 Eagle Technology Stakes and the Auckland Co-op Taxis Mile, a Rating 75 event.

“I might chance my arm and run her in the Group Three race,” said James of The Tidy Express. “Being a mare, getting black-type is important. She is good enough to get some black-type some time and maybe she could get it on Saturday.”

Hera, whose three wins include the Listed Graeme Thomson Jewellers Great Northern Foal Stakes on the Ellerslie track last May, and Lady Cumquat, an impressive last-start maiden winner at Tauranga, give James a strong chance in the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial.

“A bit of rain wouldn’t hurt either one,” said James. “I’d have liked to have seen them drawn a bit better, but they’re both very well and I’m happy with them going into the race.”

Hera, who has drawn barrier 12 and will be ridden by Leith Innes,  was most consistent last season, being placed in her first three starts then winning at New Plymouth before her stakes win at Ellerslie.

Lady Cumquat, an Australian bred and owned daughter of Duke Of Marmalade, will start from barrier 15 and be ridden by Rory Hutchings.

James considered taking Lady Cumquat to Riccarton for the Gr. 1 NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas or the Gr. 1 Sothys NZ 2000 Guineas, but he is glad he canned the idea.

“It’s a blessing she didn’t go down to Riccarton,” said James. “The track was just too hard. She’s a filly I’ve got a lot of time for and if she’d run down there it could have ruined her for races like the Eight Carat and Royal Stakes.”