Stable shoots for repeat trifecta

Lizzie L’Amour (Matt Cameron), centre, beating stablemates Love Affair (outside) and Stolen Dance (rails) in last year’s Gr.2 Cal Isuzu Stakes. The dual Gr.1 winner will be attempting a repeat win tomorrow.

Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman have an opportunity to repeat last year’s performance in the Gr.2 Cal Isuzu Stakes at Te Rapa tomorrow.

The champion trainers produced a memorable trifecta in last year’s 1600m fillies and mares feature and have three runners this time.

Lizzie L’Amour headed the trifecta in last year’s race, defeating stablemates Love Affair and Stolen Dance, who went on to win the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham before she was retired to stud.

Lizzie L’Amour and Love Affair are back to tackle this year’s race and are joined by twice-Group One-placed Nicoletta.

Matthew Cameron, who guided Love Affair to a tenacious last-start win in the Gr.3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie, has plumped for Lizzie L’Amour as his mount, leaving Opie Bosson to ride Love Affair and Jonathan Riddell to partner Nicoletta.

“It was a good race for us last year and while there are one or two good mares up against us, our three have all got form on the board,” Baker said.

“Lizzie L’Amour is going along well. She can sprint a good mile fresh. She hasn’t done a lot since her last run, but she’s freshened up nicely.”

TAB bookmakers opened Lizzie L’Amour and Love Affair as equal $2.60 favourites, ahead of Nicoletta on the second line of betting at $6.50.

A Group One winner of the New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie and Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa, Zabeel six-year-old Lizzie L’Amour will be shooting for her third straight win at the meeting after claiming the Gr.3 SkyCity Hamilton Waikato Cup (2400m) in 2016.

She followed her gallant second placing in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings with a solid second to stablemate Saint Emilion in the Gr.3 OMF Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie last month.

There were 18 rating points between Lizzie L’Amour and Love Affair last year, but just one separates the pair going into tomorrow’s race.

“She loves Te Rapa, Love Affair,” Baker said of the winner of six of her 12 starts, three of the wins coming in four starts at Te Rapa.

“She had to do a bit of work at Ellerslie last start and I thought the second horse had her measure so it was a good effort to pick her up.”

Fellow Savabeel five-year-old mare Nicoletta has been in good form this season, winning the Gr.3 Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Hawera before finishing second in the Gr.2 Tauranga Stakes (1600m) and fourth in the Gr.2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1400m) at Pukekohe last start.

“She’s always thereabouts,” Baker said. “Most of her runs have been in Group races and she’s always competitive. We can’t see that changing again this weekend.”

Safely through tomorrow’s race, Lizzie L’Amour and Nicoletta could clash in the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, while the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at Ellerslie is a possible target for Love Affair.

– NZ Racing Desk