The Filly ready for NRM Sprint

The Filly (inner) rocking punters when beating I Do two starts ago at Hawera. Can she shock punters again on Saturday? (Photo: Race Images).

The Filly (inner) rocking punters when beating I Do two starts ago at Hawera. Can she shock punters again on Saturday? (Photo: Race Images).


The Filly has surprised when overlooked by punters and that could happen again at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Cambridge trainer and part-owner Murray Neal believes he has The Filly ready to shake her rivals in the Gr. 1 $200,000 NRM Sprint, despite having not raced since tailing the field home in the Gr. 2 NRM Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at Avondale last November.

The Filly was galloped on during that 1400-metre feature and Neal later discovered another reason for her below-par performance.

“She also had a bit of a viral infection,” said Neal. “I had a bit of trouble getting her blood right, but she’s well again now. She’s a good honest mare and I’m very happy with her.”

The Filly finished almost 12 lengths from the winner, Kelly O’Reilly, in the Breeders’ Stakes and rider Mark Hills didn’t knock her around when realising she wouldn’t be in the action.

“Mark sat up on her the last bit and looked after her,” said Neal. “He knows her well and he felt she wasn’t right. He’s back on her again on Saturday.”

Before that last-start failure The Filly and Hills had rocked punters when beating the Group One winner I Do and the durable top-class mare Postmans Daughter in the Gr. 3 Rich Hill Stud Taranaki Breeders Stakes (1400m) at Hawera last October. She was at odds of 39/1 on that occasion and Neal was rubbing his hands together over the generous odds.

The Filly began this season with a fresh-up third behind I Do and Pussy O’Reilly in the Gr. 3 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa last August when again ridden by Hills.

The Filly’s earlier efforts include a second to Shezhardtocatch in the 2013 Gr. 3 Aussie Butcher Concorde Handicap and thirds in the 2013 Listed Waikato Stud Opunake Cup, the Listed BNZ Partners Counties Bowl and the Listed Windsor Park Rotorua Stakes.

She has recorded two of her nine wins since Neal has been based at the Cambridge property of Graeme Lord and has shown a liking for the Te Rapa track.

“She likes Te Rapa and she goes well fresh so I give her a good chance on Saturday,” said Neal.

Provided The Filly acquits herself well this weekend she is likely to head to Ellerslie for the Gr.3 $70,000 Westbury Classic (fillies and mares 1400m) on Auckland Cup day, March 4.

“If she picks up one of her next two races we could look further,” said Neal, indicating a Queensland Winter Carnival campaign could be a possibility.