It may be considered strange to be eyeing off Gr1 features for a 2YO yet to break his duck, but trainer Wayne Hills is doing just that with exciting kiwi juvenile prospect Big Lippy. All three starts for the son of Showcasing have been in black-type company (two at Group level) and each has resulted in a placing, the most recent on New Year's Day where he rattled home at silly odds to finish runner-up to unbeaten filly Melt. According to NZTM, the Gr3 Phoenix Park 2YO Classic (1200m) at New Plymouth on February 3 will be his next assignment. Bit Lippy's autumn programme will take in the Gr1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie and the Gr1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni where he is likely to enjoy the additional 200m.
In New Year's Day's opening feature race at Ellerslie in Auckland, Haunui Farm shuttler Iffraaj (Zafonic-Pastorale, by Nureyev) added a group success when well-bred undefeated 2YO New Zealand-bred filly Melt (Iffraaj-Ticklish, by Maroof) justified strong betting support with a powerful finish to score by 0.8-lengths for trainer Nigel Tiley in the $70,000 Gr3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) for 2YOs. Runner-up gelding Bit Lippy (Showcasing-Ceramic, by Van Nistelrooy) made a mockery of his generous starting price to finish ahead of the filly She's A Thief (Showcasing-Steal, by Red Ransom). Melt has now won both of her race starts after scoring in dazzling fashion in the Listed Ashford Lodge Stakes ahead of I'm Lippy on debut in late November, and took her earnings to $73,250. "She can have a little bit of a break and she's not Karaka Million eligible so we'll get her back for the Sistema here and then have a crack at the Sires," Tiley told NZ Racing Desk. The Gr1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) will be run on March 10 with the Gr1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni three weeks later.
At Trentham in New Zealand, Haunui Farm's Gr2-winning shuttler Showcasing (Oasis Dream-Arabesque, by Zafonic) added a Group race success when 2YO New Zealand-bred filly Xpression (Showcasing-Xpress, by Don Eduardo) unwound a strong run from the rear of the field to win the $100,000 Gr2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1200m) for 2YOs, defeating Espumoso & Bit Lippy. Xpression, who hails from the family of Gr1 Underwood Stakes & Gr1 Doomben Cup winner Perlin and Karaka Million winner Hardline, improved her record to 1 win and 1 placing from 2 starts for NZ$64,750 in earnings. Haunui Farm studmaster Mark Chitty said he never had any thoughts of selling Xpression, whom he bred with childhood friend Iain Renton, reports NZ Racing Desk. "We were 13-year-olds together at King's College and Iain, whose father bred the Melbourne Cup winner Gold And Black, and I had three goes with Showcasing and this one was the best by a mile," Chitty said. "I said to Iain let's race her and we got a few others involved. It's very exciting." Xpression is now likely to be aimed at the Gr1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes next year.
At Pukekohe in New Zealand, Haunui Farm shuttler Iffraaj (Zafonic-Pastorale, by Nureyev) added a black-type success when 2YO New Zealand-bred filly Melt (Iffraaj-Ticklish, by Maroof) unleashed a brilliant turn of foot late to post a stylish debut win in the $50,000 Listed Ashford Lodge 2YO Stakes (1100m) for 2YOs, defeating Bit Lippy & Flaunt It Girl. This was an auspicious start to Melt's career which now reads 1 win from 1 start for NZ$31,250 in earnings. Trainer Nigel Tilley said Melt had the makings of a top filly. "Her work on Thursday morning was as good as I've ever had a two-year-old work," he told NZ Racing Desk. "This filly is very good. We will be looking at some of those good races over Christmas for her." From the dual stakes winning mare Ticklish (NZ), Melt hails from the family of VRC Oaks runner-up Miss Scarlatti, Gr2-winning Zabeel mare Crimson, as well as VRC Derby winner Omnicorp & Gr2 Sandown Cup winner Pharostan.