Slight setback for Oaks filly

Eleonora, pictured beating Tiamo Grace in the Ethereal Stakes in Melbourne, is gearing up for another Australian assault.

Eleonora, pictured beating Tiamo Grace in the Ethereal Stakes in Melbourne, is gearing up for another Australian assault.

Delight turned to concern with Eleonora after the smart staying filly won her trial at Te Aroha last Tuesday.

Having her first public outing since finishing third to outsider Lasqueti Spirit in the Gr.1 Crown Oaks at Flemington last November, Eleonora beat Farm Boy in an open trial over 1000 metres, but afterwards was found to have been galloped on.

“It’s nothing major, but it will set her back 10 days to maybe a couple of weeks,” said co-trainer Murray Baker. “I was very pleased with her trial. She’s coming up nicely. We’re getting her ready for the ATC Oaks in Sydney.”

Eleonora, a daughter of Makfi, was ridden in her trial by Opie Bosson and travelled sweetly throughout.

She bounced out to lead with Farm Boy soon sitting on her outside and the pair vied for the lead turning for home. Both went to the finish under a hold with Eleonora holding an advantage to win by a neck.

“She’ll probably have a start or two here before she goes to Aussie,” said Baker. ”She’s a good filly and very game. She did well in Melbourne.”

Eleonora started her four-start Melbourne campaign off on a high note when winning a maiden 1300 metres then had no luck at all in the Gr.2 Edward Manifold Stakes when held up over the final stages. She then bounced back to win the Gr.3 Ethereal Stakes before her Crown (Victoria) Oaks placing.

Baker and training partner Andrew Forsman had four starters in the three open trials at Te Aroha for two wins and two placings. Saracino, last year’s Foxbridge Plate winner, was successful in the second 1000-metre heat, while stablemates Collaborate and Camino Rocoso finished second and third respectively in the first heat over 1200 metres behind Martiniz Special.

Collaborate, a four-year-old son of High Chaparral and the good racemare O’Reilly Rose, pleased his connections with his second placing and Baker believes he is ready to make up for lost time.

After winning the second of his two starts early last season, he was taken to Melbourne, but he didn’t get beyond his first assignment, the Gr.2 Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley. He finished tailed off last in the 1600-metre event on a hard track.

“He broke a bone in his back leg in that race and was out for 12 months,” said Baker. “We’ve given him plenty of time to get over it and I think he’ll come back.

“He’s had two trials and he’ll have another one before he goes back to the races. He’s a pretty smart horse.”

Baker also has a high opinion of Camino Rocoso, who scored an impressive win at Ellerslie last start after finishing third behind Speedy Grey at Te Aroha in a good form race.

“He just went round to keep him up to the mark,” said Baker. “He’s a (NZ) Derby show. He’s a half-brother to Littorio and he’s got a lot going for him.”

Littorio won four races and three of them were features. His highlights were wins in the Gr.1 BMW Stakes and Gr.1 Turnbull Stakes and he also won the Gr.2 Makybe Diva Stakes. He was also runner-up in the Gr.1 Victoria Derby and third in the Gr.1 Australian Derby, Gr.1 Underwood Stakes and Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas.

Camino Rocoso certainly has the bloodlines to be a serious chance in the Gr.1 Vodafone NZ Derby at Ellerslie on March 4. He is by the Melbourne and Australian Cup winner Shocking, whose progeny already includes a group of exciting stayers headed by NZ Oaks winner Fanatic and Counties Cup winner Chocante.