Zurella back for Group One

Cambridge mare Zurella has returned to New Zealand fresh from a startling Group One performance at Rosehill and in search of Group One honours on home soil.

Trainer Shaune Ritchie took her on a hit-and-run bid on the Group I $A605,000 Coolmore Classic and her performance was one of the runs of the race, charging home for fifth, less than a length from the winner, Appearance.

Ritchie was thrilled with the performance and had the mare on a flight back to New Zealand yesterday.

“I’ll give her a few days to get over the trip and we’ll then decide where to go with her,” said Ritchie. “There is a chance she could run on Saturday week in the Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha, though my preference at this stage is the (Manco) Easter Handicap a week later. Ellerslie suits her being a handicap.”

Zurella would certainly add to a quality lineup for the $200,000 Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes, an event confined to fillies and mares at weight-for-age, and if she instead heads to Ellerslie it will be her first appearance on the track since her fifth in the Group I Telecom NZ Derby just over 12 months ago.

Zurella has twice been a Group Two winner (in the Sir Tristram Fillies Classic at Te Rapa and the Let’s Elope Stakes at Flemington last September) and won the Group III Ezibuy Eulogy Stakes at Awapuni as a three-year-old.

She has twice been Group One placed, in the Wellfield NZ Oaks behind stablemate Artistic, and in the Waikato Draught Sprint (to Final Touch and Xanadu), and her goal this season has been to win a Group One race.

“I just want to win a Group One race with her,” said Ritchie. “I don’t want her going to stud being referred to as the mare that was Group One class but couldn’t win one.”