Melbourne trips on the line

Highlad (Matt Cameron) getting up to win on debut at Avondale.

Highlad (Matt Cameron) getting up on the outside to win on debut at Avondale.

The performances at Wanganui of Luna Rossa and Highlad will have a major bearing on the future directions of their three-year-old campaigns.

The highly-regarded pair are potential Melbourne spring carnival candidates and their prospects of crossing the Tasman will be significantly boosted if they turn in bold showings on Saturday.

Top filly Luna Rossa will resume in the Listed The O’Leary’s Fillies’ Stakes, while Highlad will contest the Listed H. S. Dyke Wanganui Guineas.

Luna Rossa, last season’s Gr.b1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes winner, was a trial winner at Te Teko earlier this month and she will again be ridden by champion jockey Lisa Allpress.

“She’s been a bit of a surprise and she always seems to step up and do what’s needed,” said Andrew Forsman, who trains the daughter of Written Tycoon with Murray Baker.

“She’s pretty forward and it won’t be a lack of fitness that beats her.

“There are obvious options for her. She’s nominated for the Guineas in Melbourne and here, but we’ll see what happens on Saturday first.”

Highlad was also a trial winner at Te Teko then made an impressive winning debut at Avondale in the hands of Matt Cameron, who retains the ride at Wanganui.

The son of High Chaparral and the Australian Group One performer My Lady’s Chamber is a possible Gr. 1 VRC Derby contender.

“We don’t necessarily expect him to beat Lisa Latta’s horse (Manhattan Street) or Brendon Hawtin’s (Quantum), they are more seasoned,” said Forsman.

“He doesn’t have to win to book himself a trip, he just needs to go a good race. He looks a serious prospect and he’s quite a mature spring three-year-old who should be able to cope with what’s expected.”

Meanwhile, stablemates Mime and Our Vergara pleased their connections with their resuming runs in the Gr. 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hastings last Saturday.

Mime was eighth, after being blocked for room in the straight, in her first start for new owners, the China Horse Club, while the Australian-bred Our Vergara finished one place better in her New Zealand debut.

“Our Vergara just hit a flat spot when they sprinted and she got going again late, while Mime was very unlucky,” said Forsman.

Both horses will return to Hawke’s Bay for the Gr. 1 Windsor Park Plate on September 17.

– NZ Racing Desk.