Artistic ready for NZ Stakes

Shaune Ritchie is confident Artistic is ready to bounce back to form in the Group I $200,000 NZ Stakes at Ellerslie on Saturday week.

Ritchie made the comment after watching his 2012 NZ Oaks winner score a head win in an open 1300-metre heat at the Matamata trials yesterday.

Ridden by Michael Coleman, Artistic kicked on nicely to beat Group Two winner Jeu de Cartes and the latter’s stablemate, Diadame.

“She’s all set to go to Ellerslie,” said Ritchie. “I’m happy with that trial and I think she’ll be a big chance. She’s hasn’t won since the Oaks, but she’s run some good races. It would be nice to get a Group One weight-for-age win.”

Artistic has had two runs this campaign and will go into the NZ Stakes with a last-start seventh, four lengths behind Sangster, in the Group I Darci Brahma International Stakes (wfa 2000m) at Te Rapa.

“She got shuffled back in the Darci Brahma and ran on all right,” said Ritchie. “She’s improved with the run, too.”

Ritchie is leaving future options open for Artistic until after the NZ Stakes, in which she will meet last Saturday’s Haunui Farm Group One WFA Classic winner Nashville.

“If she wins at Ellerslie we may look at taking her to Brisbane again,” said Ritchie. “She travels well and raced well there last year. And, of course, her owner (Dick Karreman), lives there. There’s also the Travis Stakes at Te Rapa to consider.”

Meanwhile, Artistic’s stablemate Zurella will be having her next start in the Gr.1 Coolmore Classic in Sydney.

“I find that keeping her fresh is best for her,” said Ritchie. “She’ll have the Coolmore Classic run over 1500 metres and we’ll see where we sit after that.”

Zurella resumed with a eyecatching late run for third behind Final Touch and Xanadu in the Group I Waikato Draught Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa and will have a trial at Cambridge next week to prepare her for Sydney.