James has sights set on 1000 Guineas

 A choice ride for one of the Riccarton classics is up for grabs after last Wednesday’s Taupo meeting.

Miss Foxwood, a daughter of the 1997 2000 Guineas winner Foxwood, was the most impressive of the nine winners at the meeting when striding clear in the run home to win the Patience C Izard 1400 by four and a half lengths.

Cambridge trainer Roger James is keen to get Miss Foxwood to the Gr. 1 $300,000 NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas at Riccarton on November 16 and the Fastnet Rock filly looked every bit a serious contender for the fillies’ feature.

Mark Du Plessis has been Miss Foxwood’s regular rider and he was very impressed with her performance in her first serious test after a third on debut as a late two-year-old at Ruakaka last May and a fresh-up fourth at Te Rapa last month.

“She needed both those races and this is the first time Roger has had tuned up for a race,” said Du Plessis. “There was shine in her coat and she felt great.

“She’s going to be a top ride by the time she gets to Riccarton, but that’s a problem for me.”

Du Plessis is also the regular rider of Bounding, who followed an impressive fresh-up win in the Gr. 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings with a trials win at Cambridge last Tuesday.

Du Plessis will ride Bounding next in the Gr. 3 James and Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes at Te Rapa later this month and a winning performance there should ensure she starts favourite in the NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas.

The manner in which Miss Foxwood won at Taupo was no surprise for James, who had told her owner-breeders, Southland couple Jim and Helen Hannan, that she could be the best of Foxwood’s progeny.

James prepared Foxwood to win five races, with the 1998 Captain Cook Stakes being among her two Group One triumphs. She was also second in the 1997 Gr. 1 Bayer Classic and as a broodmare she has had nine foals to race and all have been winners.

Foxwood’s best advertisements have been Rockwood, winner of four races including the Gr. 3 AJC Frank Packer Plate, and Quartz Reef, a two-race winner whose placings included a second in the Gr. 3 Manawatu Classic.

Foxwood died in December 2012 but has been kept to the fore through the deeds of her smart sprinter Future King (trained by James) and Foxspur, who has had two starts for Cambridge trainers Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue for a win and a second.

James has been biding his time with Miss Foxwood, waiting to strike suitable footing and he decided to press the button this week, even though the filly drew barrier 12 in the 14-horse field.

“We’ve been held up by the wet tracks and when it looked like a good track today I rang Jim and told him we were running out of time if we hoped to get her to Riccarton,” said James. “I explained that if she is going to be good enough for the Guineas, she should overcome a wide draw in a maiden race at Taupo.”

Miss Foxwood was trapped three-wide just off the pace, but Du Plessis wasn’t worried as she was tracking another runner also caught three-wide.

“She was travelling beautifully on the turn and when I let her go she just exploded,” said Du Plessis. “I couldn’t believe how easy she did it.”