Artistic to join Zurella in Brisbane

Shaune Ritchie’s two-pronged bid on the Queensland Winter Carnival will be approaching Brisbane from different angles.

Zurella, a last-start sixth behind Reliable Man in the Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick, is staying in Sydney until being floated to Brisbane closer to the time of her main mission, the Gr.1 $A500,000 Doomben Cup on Saturday week, while stablemate Artistic will be aboard to the flight to Brisbane from New Zealand on Thursday.

“We were originally going to bring Zurella home after the Queen Elizabeth and prepare her here for the Doomben Cup, but she’s acclimatised so well to being boxed over there we’re reluctant to move her,” said Ritchie.

“I’m just keeping an eye on the weather in Brisbane. If it became wet, she’d fly home. It’s no good going if she won’t handle the track. But at this stage, the Doomben Cup is all go.”

Ritchie was pleased with Zurella’s last-start effort and will be looking to the Doomben Cup to confirm her main mission for Melbourne in the spring.

“I thought it was a good run,” he said. “You don’t get a better weight-for-age field than that and she was a nose and a nose from fourth. Craig Newitt got off her and, without me asking, he said the MacKinnon Stakes would be perfect for her. He gave his reasons and I tend to agree with him. She’s won at Flemington and 2000 is her pet distance.”

The decision to take Artistic to Brisbane was left up to her owner, Dick Karreman, and his New Zealand general manager, Rick Williams, after the mare finished second to Gold Cape at Hastings last Friday.

“They’ve decided to roll the dice again with her,” said Ritchie. “I really wanted to see her win to boost her confidence, but she did give the winner five kilos. She’ll drop down the weights in Australia.”

Artistic is likely to begin her latest Brisbane campaign in the Gr.3 Premiers Cup at Doomben on May 23 and if she performs well she will tackle the Gr.2 $A300,000 Brisbane Cup a fortnight later.