Fleur on target for Group One

Cambridge trainer Lee Somervell could be celebrating his first Group One success on Saturday night.

Somervell has come so close to the honour with Fleur de Lune finishing a nose second behind Say No More in the Group I Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Stakes at Te Aroha and a handy third to yet another Cambridge galloper, Veyron, in the Group I Manco Easter Handicap at Ellerslie.

And last year Fleur de Lune was third behind Mufhasa and Jimmy Choux in the Group I Makfi Challenge Stakes, the Hastings event in which she could well finish two placings closer this weekend.

Fleur de Lune is the highest-rated female galloper in the Makfi Challenge Stakes and is going into Saturday’s event with a sound fresh-up win in the Group III Waikato Stud Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa. Last year she was runner-up in the Foxbridge Plate behind Fritzy Boy and turned the tables on him this time.

Fleur de Lune has a strong opportunity to boost Cambridge’s record in the Hastings weight-for-age event. Over the last six years the race has fallen to Cambridge on three occasions — Seachange in 2006 and 2007 and Keep The Peace in 2010.

Somervell was thrilled to win the Foxbridge Plate with Fleur de Lune and he believes she will give her rivals a run for the money on Saturday.

“I’ll be surprised if she’s not in the first three,” said Somervell. “She has absolutely thrived since the Foxbridge Plate and she had a good gallop on Saturday morning. Jason (regular rider Jason Jago) says she feels enormous.”

Somervell believes the Foxbridge Plate proved a point with Fleur de Lune. “It showed she doesn’t have to lead,” said Somervell. “Jason couldn’t believe how well she settled for him and really he only had to ride her out hands and heels. He understands her so well.”