Early Easter kisses again

An early Easter trip to Christchurch again proved fruitful for the connections of talented Cambridge mare Kisses yesterday.

Twelve months ago the Chequers Stud-owned and bred daughter of Iffraaj registered her first stakes win in the Listed NZ Bloodstock Air Freight Stakes (1600m) and yesterday she repeated the result when taking the Listed $50,000 Christchurch Casino Easter Cup (1600m)

Darryl Bradley had been aboard in the Air Freight Stakes win and that was a comfortable one and three-quarter length victory, but the CD rider had a more tense time on Kisses yesterday in a thrilling finish to the event.

In a blanket finish, Kisses got in the deciding stride to win by a half-head from Rohaise, while another North Island galloper, Likeapins, was a mere long head away in third placing.

“It was a big effort and I couldn’t be more proud of her,” said Mark Fraser-Campin, who trains Kiss in partnership with his brother, Chris.

“It was a lovely ride and to pull it off was fantastic. She gave 100 per cent and she was going from 1200 to 1600 metres. Darryl (Bradley) thought she’d had enough at the 200, so we’ll give her a decent spell now.”

Kisses has now won four times from 15 starts with a further four placings to her credit.

After competing at last year’s Riccarton Easter meeting she was sent to Sydney, but didn’t finish closer than fifth in five starts. Since being back in the Cambridge stable she is unbeaten, having preceded yesterday’s win with a narrow victory at Pukekohe last Monday.

The strength of that Pukekohe win took on more meaning when the runner-up Alice Webb Ellis won at Hastings yesterday.

Kisses is likely to be set for the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival with the Gr. 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes, the first leg of the Hastings’ Triple Crown, as her possible target.

“That’s if everything fell into place,” said Fraser-Campin. “She’s won two stakes races now and run second in one (Wanganui Fillies’ Stakes), so she’s working up the ladder.

“She’s a big mare who still needs to fill out her body and will get better with time. Each preparation should be better than the last.  I’ve always had a soft spot for her.”

Stablemate Satay failed to give her stable back-to-back wins in the NZB Air Freight Stakes when finishing 12th, seven and three-quarter lengths behind the winner, Madam Victoria.

“She drew the outside as well and we had no choice but to go back,” said Fraser-Campin. “She was making steady ground and her grand final will be next week.”

Satay will step up to 2000 metres in next Saturday’s Listed NZB Warstep Stakes.