The New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series continues tomorrow with the running of the eighth leg - the $70,000 Gr3 Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings, a key lead-up to Oaks races on both sides of the Tasman. Lowland Stakes winners have a remarkable Oaks record in recent seasons with 2015 winner Savaria winning the New Zealand Oaks, 2016 winner Sofia Rosa finishing runner-up in the New Zealand Oaks before winning the Australian Oaks, and last year's winner Bonneval claiming the New Zealand Oaks & Australian Oaks double. This year's 13-strong Lowland Stakes field features Group 1 winner Hasahalo, Group 1 placegetters Belle du Nord and Savvy Coup, highly regarded stakes winner Treasure, and stakes placegetters Milseain, Swing Note, Caricature and Luxe. The Lowland Stakes is worth 6 points to the winner, with 3 points for second and 1.5 for third. Hasahalo currently sits third on the points table with 12, just behind the second-placed Contessa Vanessa on 13.5. Dijon Bleu is the clear leader with 30 points. Click here to view commentary on each runner.
With NZB's Karaka set to literally light up on Sunday 28 January with the commencement of Book 1's new night session at the 2018 National Yearling Sales Series, buyers will have the opportunity to invest in a catalogue laden with matriarchal strength. A lofty 19% of Gr1 winners in Australia over the past 5 seasons are NZ-bred. The dazzling role call includes dual Oaks and Underwood Stakes winner Bonneval, Champion 2YO Melody Belle, together with fellow Gr1 winning fillies Charmont, Chenille, I Am A Star and Montoya's Secret. 2018 has already commenced spectacularly with Gr1 Guineas winners Aloisia and Hasahalo as well as top drawer sprinter Volpe Veloce taking the Railway. Amidst a buoyant contemporary bloodstock market, prices are again tipped to soar and rival the $800,000 outlaid by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum in 2017 for the High Chaparral filly out of Diamond Like.
In New Zealand, Monday's Gr2 Rich Hill Mile win by Waikato Stud's cleverly-named Coldplay (Savabeel-Forty Two Below) at Ellerslie was the icing on the cake on what has been a couple of extraordinary months for their incumbent New Zealand Champion Sire Savabeel. By early September last year he was already comfortably leading both the Dewar Stallion Trophy (combined Australian & New Zealand progeny earnings) and the Centaine Award (NZ-conceived progeny earnings worldwide). Subsequent to that point his hand-canter has turned into a full-blown gallop as he marches on to a fourth consecutive NZ Champion Sire title while starring on both sides of the Tasman Sea. Since then, which should have the vendors of his 75 NZB National Yearling Sales Series entries full of aniticipation, his progeny wins have included:
New Zealand Bloodstock's Filly of the Year Series continues on Saturday with the running of the third leg - the $70,000 Gr3 Eulogy Stakes (1550m) at Awapuni. The current table leader is the classy Karaka graduate Dijon Bleu (Burgundy). The Lisa Latta-trained filly won the first leg, the Gr3 Hawke's Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) before finishing runner-up to Hasahalo (Savabeel) in the Gr1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m). Dijon Bleu sits on 13 points, leading Hasahalo by 1. Other fillies with points to their name are The Lustre (Darci Brahma) with 3.5, Florence Jean (Pins) with 3 and Princess Rihanna (Showcasing) with 1.5. Of those, only Princess Rihanna will line up in Saturday's race. The Eulogy Stakes honour roll includes Filly of the Year title winners Insouciant (2007), Justa Tad (2004) and Savannah Success (1998). The 2017 Eulogy Stakes will be run as Race 7 with a start time of 4.13pm (local time). Click here to view runners' comments.
Classy Kiwi filly Dijon Bleu (Burgundy-Pristino, by More Than Ready) is back in work with trainer Lisa Latta after a short break following her gallant second to Hasahalo in the New Zealand 1,000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton, reports NZ Racing Desk. "She is quite a highly-strung filly, one of those that's best doing a bit of work," Latta said. Dijon Bleu's Guineas run followed victories in the Gr3 Gold Trail Stakes (1400m), Listed Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) and Listede O'Leary's Fillies' Classic (1200m). "She'll go to the Eulogy Stakes at Awapuni and then the Desert Gold Stakes," Latta said. Dijon Bleu also holds a nomination for the Gr1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham on 13 January.
At Riccarton in New Zealand, Waikato Stud's Cox Plate-winning champion sire Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success, by Success Express) celebrated an elite race success when 3YO New Zealand-bred filly Hasahalo (Savabeel-Halloween, by Encosta de Lago) proved far too strong for her rivals when scoring a wide-margin win in the $300,000 Gr1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) for 3YO fillies, defeating Dijon Bleu & The Lustre. A $110,000 purchase by Go Racing at the 2016 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of Waikato Stud, Hasahalo improved her record to 2 wins (including the Gr3 ARC Eclipse Stakes) and 2 placings (including the Listed (R) Karaka Million) from 9 starts for NZ$411,000 in earnings. "There was a question mark about the mile today, but she got the job done well and found the line strongly," winning trainer Stephen McKee said. Hasahalo hails from the family of Gr1 Emirates Stakes winner Titanic Jack, Gr1 Toorak Handicap winner Sober Suit, Gr3-winning colt Addictive Nature, Gr2-winning and Gr1-placed Savvy Nature, and stakes winners La Lagune and Make Me A Miracle.
Talented Kiwi filly Hasahalo (Savabeel-Halloween, by Encosta de Lago) will shoot for further stakes success when she resumes in the Gr3 Hawke's Bay Breeders' Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings on 23 September, reports NZ Racing Desk. "We know she goes well fresh and she is just thriving on her fast work," trainer Stephen McKee said. The winner of last season's Gr3 Eclipse Stakes and runner-up in the Karaka Million, Hasahalo's main target is the Gr1 New Zealand 1,000 Guineas at Riccarton in November.
Talented youngsters Hasahalo and Star Treasure are putting a spring in the step of their trainer Stephen McKee, reports NZ Racing Desk. "They are both back in work and doing very well," the Ardmore trainer said. Hasahalo (Savabeel-Halloween, by Encosta de Lago) won the Gr3 Eclipse Stakes before she finished runner-up behind Melody Belle in the Listed Karaka Million. She then ran fifth in the Gr1 Sistema Stakes and was turned out after an unplaced effort in the Gr1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes. "She's filled out quite a bit and she looks really good," McKee said. "A break has done wonders for her and we're really looking forward to the future with her." The Gr3 Hawke's Bay Breeders' Gold Trail Stakes on September 23 looms as an early 3YO target for the filly. Star Treasure, on the other hand, is likely to make an earlier return to action. "He's quite a leggy horse and he's done well," McKee said. "We'll probably be looking to race him in late August, maybe at Ruakaka, and hopefully the 2000 Guineas later on." Star Treasure (Lonhro-Lost in Dubai, by Dubai Destination) has won one of his six starts and finished runner-up in the Gr1 Sistema Stakes and fourth in the Gr1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes.
A Cambridge stable is making plans for a juvenile Gr1 double, reports NZ Racing Desk. Tony Pike has eyes for the Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie on March 11 with the highly impressive debut winner Aim Smart (Smart Missile-North Sea, by Hussonet) and the Karaka Million placegetter Felton Road (Pins-Rose Red, by O'Reilly). "Aim Smart looks very good at this stage – on what he did at Pukekohe he looks pretty special," Pike said. Raced by the China Horse Club, the Smart Missile colt coasted home by three lengths at the expense of the highly regarded pair of Summer Passage and Excelleration. "At this stage he'll either go to New Plymouth for the Group Three race or for Matamata," Pike said. The Phoenix Park 2YO Classic will be run at New Plymouth on February 18 while the Listed Rein & Harrison Slipper will be run a week later. Meanwhile, Felton Road was unbeaten in his first two appearances before he placed behind Melody Belle and Hasahalo in the Karaka Million. "He pulled up really well after that and we're giving him a week off," Pike said. "He'll come back in the stable on Monday and we'll either run him in the Matamata race or go straight for the Group One races at Ellerslie and at Awapuni." The Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes will be run on April 1.
Karaka Million runner-up Hasahalo (Savabeel-Halloween, by Encosta de Lago) is almost certain to be returning to Ellerslie to chase a Group One prize, reports NZ Racing Desk. "All going well, we'll be back for the Diamond Stakes," trainer Stephen McKee said. "She really rattled home, but to be fair the winner (Melody Belle) was too good." McKee added: "We got a bit further back than we wanted when the pace went out of the race." Hasahalo has won 1 of her 4 starts hitherto, namely the Gr3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand on Sunday, Darley's deceased Gr3-winning & multiple Gr1-placed stallion Commands (Danehill-Cotehele House, by My Swanee) added a restricted black-type success when 2YO filly Melody Belle (Commands-Meleka Belle, by Iffraaj) scored by 1.25 lengths for trainers Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards in the NZ$1 million Listed Karaka Million (1200m) for 2YOs, over fellow 2YO filly Hasahalo (Savabeel-Halloween, by Encosta de Lago) & 2YO colt Felton Road (Pins-Rose Red, by O'Reilly). A $57,500 purchase by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis on behalf of Fortuna Bloodstock at the 2016 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of Haunui Farm, Melody Belle improved her record to 2 wins and 3 placings (including the Gr2 WRC Wakefield Challenge Stakes) from 4 starts for NZ$564,075 earnings. Fortuna Bloodstock principal John Galvin commented: "This is special as it is a wonderful race to win," he told NZ Racing Desk. "The syndicate is made up of a lot of existing Fortuna clients who have been in other horses along with some brand newbies. It's a great thrill for them, to not only have a runner in the race but to get the win." Melody Belle is the first foal of Iffraaj mare Meleka Belle who will see her second foal, an O'Reilly colt, presented in the Haunui Farm draft as Lot 850 during the Select session of the National Yearling Sale series that kicks off at Karaka today.
A full field of 14 plus one emergency has been confirmed for the 10th Karaka Million, to be held at the Karaka Million Twilight Meeting at Ellerslie this Sunday (29 January). New Zealand's equal richest race, the Karaka Million (1200m) is held on the eve of the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales Series commencing at Karaka and consists of graduates from Karaka 2016. The top qualifier is Gift of Power (Power), who impressively won all of her first three starts including the Gr2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes and Listed Wellesley Stakes. Purchased by Team Rogerson at the Premier Sale for $180,000 from Cambridge Stud, she has earned $107,400 from four starts and will be ridden by Craig Grylls. Hasahalo (Savabeel) handed Gift Of Power her first defeat in the Gr3 Eclipse Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year's Day, coming from last with a late charge to win by a head. It boosted her earnings to $61,000 and propelling her to second on the order of entry. Trained by Stephen McKee, who won last year's Karaka Million with Xiong Feng, Hasahalo was bought by Go Racing at the Premier Sale for $110,000 from Curraghmore. Hasahalo will be ridden by Blake Shinn. For details about the remaining Karaka Million runners, click here. Sunday's six-race programme is scheduled to commence at 4.58pm with the first race of the Karaka Million Series, the $100,000 Windsor Park Stud Karaka Stayers Cup running at 5.33pm as Race 2, followed by the Listed (R) $100,000 NZB Insurance Karaka 3YO Mile at 6.07pm as Race 3 and the Listed (R) $1 million Karaka Million race at 7.16pm as Race 5.
The Karaka Million field is:
1. Star Treasure (Stephen McKee) 56.5kg (7)
2. Padraig (Brendon Hawtin) 56.5kg (12)
3. Felton Road (Tony Pike) 56.5kg (1)
4. Ameridon (Liam Birchley) 56.5kg (13)
5. Oscar Eight (Nigel Tiley) 56.5kg (15)
6. Waldorf (Andrew Campbell) 56.5kg (5)
7. Gift Of Power (Graeme & Debbie Rogerson) 54.5kg (2)
8. Hasahalo (Stephen McKee) 54.5kg (10)
9. Princess Rihanna (Lance O'Sullivan & Andrew Scott) 54.5kg (4)
10. Dijon Bleu (Lisa Latta) 54.5kg (9)
11. Melody Belle (Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards) 54.5kg (3)
12. Global Thinking (Shaune Ritchie) 54.5kg (8)
13. Te Amo (Peter Robl) 54.5kg (11)
14. Sophie's Choice (Stephen Marsh) 54.5kg (14)
15. Iffragal (Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards) 54.5kg (6)
Two-year-old races at Ellerslie and Trentham tomorrow Saturday will give a number of Karaka Million hopefuls the chance to secure their place in the field for the $1 million feature at Ellerslie on 29 January. The winner of the Wellington Provedoring 2YO Premier (1200m) at Trentham will earn prize money of $18,750. Even if the winner has earned nothing before this race, that would be enough to propel that horse (if eligible) into fifth place on the current order of entry – behind only Gift of Power ($110,525), Hasahalo ($62,000), Star Treasure ($33,150) and Talaria ($31,950). Ellerslie’s race, the Countdown to Karaka 2017 (1200m), is worth $12,000 to the winner. That would also almost certainly assure the winner of a place in the Karaka Million starting gate. The Ellerslie race carries particular interest, with eight of the 10 runners eligible for the Karaka Million, including impressive debut winner Felton Road (Pins), Bombard (Dalghar), and Mighty Power (Power). The barrier draw for the $1 million Karaka Million 2YO race takes place on Wednesday 25 January. Click here for the current order of entry.
Top fillies Gift of Power (Power) and Hasahalo (Savabeel) filled the quinella in a Group race for the second time this season when they clashed in the Gr3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day, further cementing their place at the top of the order of entry for the Karaka Million (1200m) on January 29. Gift of Power won the first clash between the high-class pair, edging out the fast-finishing Hasahalo in a tight finish to last month's Gr2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Trentham. The Eclipse Stakes produced another nail-biting finish, and this time Hasahalo's late charge was successful as she scored by a head. Despite the first defeat of her four-start career, Gift of Power maintains a strong lead in the Karaka Million order of entry with prize money of $110,525. Hasahalo is a clear second with $62,000, which places her almost $30,000 clear of her stable-mate Star Treasure (Lonhro). The next chance for two-year-olds to force their way into the Karaka Million field will be on Saturday (January 14), when a $30,000 race is contested at Trentham and a $20,000 race is held at Ellerslie. Click here for the latest order of entry.
At Trentham in New Zealand, Cambridge Stud's dual Gr1-winning shuttler Power (Oasis Dream-Frappe, by Inchinor) added a Group success when 2YO filly Gift Of Power (Power-Capital Diamond, by Lucky Unicorn) scored by a nose for trainers Graeme & Debbie Rogerson in the NZ$100,000 Gr2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) for 2YOs, over fellow 2YO fillies Hasahalo (Savabeel-Halloween, by Encosta de Lago) & Melody Belle (Commands-Meleka Belle, by Iffraaj). Gift Of Power, who was purchased by Team Rogerson for $180,000 at the 2016 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of Cambridge Stud, extended her unbeaten record to 3 wins (including the Listed Wellesley Stakes) from 3 starts for NZ$93,750 earnings. A first crop daughter of Cambridge Stud's Power, Gift Of Power was offered by the leading nursery, whose principals Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan have retained a racing interest. "We couldn't be more thrilled, she's a lovely filly," Sir Patrick told NZ Racing Desk. "Power is doing marvellously well in the Northern Hemisphere and it's good to see him going so well here."