All finalists have been confirmed for the New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards, reports NZ Racing Desk. The category winners, together with Horse of the Year and the NZTR award for Outstanding Contribution to Racing, will be announced at a black-tie dinner in Auckland, at Ellerslie Racecourse, on Sunday 26 August. The major categories are:
Click here to view full list of categories and confirmed winners.
Dual Group 1 winner Lizzie L'Amour (Zabeel-Sabia, by Sadler's Wells) will be a notable omission from Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman's team for The Championships in Sydney, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Zabeel mare has been spelled following her last-start seventh in the Gr1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m). "She's gone for a spell. She felt the hard track at Ellerslie and that put us on the back foot and ruled out Sydney," Forsman said. Lizzie L'Amour added the Gr1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) to her record last month to go with her success in last season's New Zealand Stakes.
The immediate future of dual Group 1 winning Kiwi mare Lizzie L'Amour (Zabeel-Sabia, by Sadler's Wells) is yet to be confirmed, reports NZ Racing Desk. Lizzie L'Amour was unsuccessful when attempting to defend her title in last Saturday's Gr1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie where she found the ground against her. "The track was too firm for her and she didn't let go like she can," co-trainer Murray Baker said. "We haven't decided what we're going to do with her yet." The daughter of Zabeel claimed the second top-flight win of her career two runs back when cruising home by a big margin in the Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa.
It's fitting that the late, great, stallion Zabeel left one of his best mares for last. In Lizzie L'Amour, the Cambridge Stud stalwart has a daughter who is poetry in motion with a long, raking gallop that reels her opposition in, and who is up for the fight once she gets her head in front. With entries for the Gr1 Doncaster Handicap, Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Sydney Cup at The Championships in Sydney, co-trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman might give due consideration for one of those if Lizzie makes it back-to-back wins in Saturday's weight-for-age Gr1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes, for which she's an even money favourite. Disappointing in her four Victorian starts last year, a trip to Sydney and the clockwise way of going might entice connections to send her West for a crack at the big purses.
A total of 117 nominations have been weighted for the 153rd running of the $2 million Gr1 Sydney Cup (3200m) to be run at Royal Randwick on day two of The Championships on Saturday, 14th April. Among the entries are nine horses that competed in last year's Melbourne Cup, including winner Rekindling and runner-up Johannes Vermeer. Fame Game, one of nine entries from Japan, has been allocated top weight of 58kg on a 50kg limit (49kg for 3YOs). The second-highest weighted horse is 2016 Melbourne Cup winner Almandin with 57kg, while 2017 Melbourne Cup quinella Rekindling (winner) and Johannes Vermeer (2nd) are next with 56.5kg. The highest weighted mares are Single Gaze and Lizzie L'Amour with 53kg. Click here to view full weights for Sydney Cup.
At Te Rapa in New Zealand, Cambridge Stud's deceased multiple Champion sire Zabeel (Sir Tristram-Lady Giselle, by Nureyev) celebrated an elite race success when high class 5YO New Zealand-bred mare Lizzie L'Amour (Zabeel-Sabia, by Sadler's Wells) unleashed a dazzling turn of foot at the 200m to post a brilliant win in the $400,000 Gr1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) for 3YO+, defeating Wildflower & Nicoletta. Lizzie L'Amour improved her record to 7 wins (including the Gr1 New Zealand Stakes, Gr2 Cal Isuzu Stakes & Gr3 Waikato Cup) and 4 placings (including the Gr1 Zabeel Classic) from 19 starts for $546,912 in earnings. The beautifully bred Lizzie L'Amour is a direct descendant of celebrated blue hen Best In Show, ancestress of the likes of multiple champion Australian sire Redoute's Choice, Hurricane Sky, Umatilla, Xaar, Al Maher, Sex Appeal (dam of stallion heavyweights Try My Best & El Gran Senor), Kentucky Oaks winner Blush With Pride, and her daughter Better Than Honour, who fetched a world-record price of US$14 million for a broodmare in 2008 and is the dam of US classic winners Rags To Riches & Jazil. Co-trainer Murray Baker said all options were on the table for Lizzie L'Amour, including a possible trip to Australia. "She's flying at the moment and she won that pretty easily," Baker told NZ Racing Desk. "She has a nomination for the Auckland Cup, but I think she'll go to the Bonecrusher instead." Baker added: "We'll put in a nomination for the Queen Elizabeth [Gr1] in Sydney and see how long she holds up – she's certainly in great touch at the moment."
Lizzie L'Amour will be out to double her Group 1 tally in tomorrow's Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 5YO Zabeel mare is already a winner at the highest level after landing last year's Gr1 New Zealand Stakes, and she is favoured by bookmakers to add another elite success in the weight-for-age feature. The Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman-trained 5YO is in top form having resumed with a win in the Gr2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) in December and recorded placings in the Gr1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) and Gr2 Westbury Classic (1400m) at her last two outings. Her Westbury Classic run marked her as the horse to beat in the Herbie Dyke after she stormed home for second over the unsuitable seven-furlong trip. "She's done well and she likes Te Rapa," Baker said. "She's got to be hard to beat." Lizzie L'Amour (Zabeel-Sabia, by Sadler's Wells) is also entered in the Gr1 Auckland Cup (3200m) on 10 March, but Baker says she is more likely to defend her New Zealand Stakes crown on the same day. "It's doubtful that she'll go for the Auckland Cup," he said.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand, 4-time Gr1-winning NZ Windsor Park shuttler & former European Champion 2YO Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer-Starlight Dreams, by Black Tie Affair) celebrated an elite success when 6YO New Zealand-bred mare Thee Auld Floozie (Mastercraftsman-Thee Auld Hussie, by Spinning World) showed her class when sprinting clear late for a comfortable win in the $100,000 Gr2 Westbury Classic (1400m) for 3YO+ fillies & mares, defeating Lizzie L'Amour & Coldplay. Thee Auld Floozie, who is out of dual stakes winning mare Thee Auld Hussie, improved her record to 11 wins (including the Gr1 Thorndon Mile, Gr3 Sunline Vase & Listed J Swap Contractors 1400) and 8 placings (including the Gr1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes & Gr3 Manawatu Breeders' Stakes) from 35 starts for NZ$528,360 in earnings.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand on Boxing Day, former Fairdale Stud and now Goodwood Stud stallion Howbaddouwantit (Rahy-Fair To The Wind, by Nijinsky) added a black-type success when evergreen 8YO gelding Authentic Paddy (Howbaddouwantit-Authentic Cross, by Cape Cross) finally cracked his Gr1 maiden for trainer Lisa Latta in the $280,000 Gr1 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic (2000m), 1.3-lengths clear of 5YO mare Lizzie l'Amour (Zabeel-Sabia) & 6YO gelding Volkstok'n'barrell (Tavistock-Volkster, by Volksraad). It was a sweet victory for connections as Authentic Paddy already had two placings in this event among his consistent bridesmaid record in Gr1 company. His 11 wins and 31 placings have now earned his connections $665,395 earnings.
At Te Rapa in New Zealand, Cambridge Stud's deceased multiple Champion sire Zabeel (Sir Tristram-Lady Giselle, by Nureyev) added a Group race success when 5YO New Zealand-bred mare Lizzie L'Amour (Zabeel-Sabia, by Sadler's Wells) made a welcome return to the winner's circle when landing the $100,000 Gr2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) for fillies & mares, defeating Love Affair & Stolen Dance.Lizzie L'Amour improved her record to 6 wins (including the Gr1 New Zealand Stakes & Gr3 Waikato Cup) and 2 placings from 16 starts for $272,851 in earnings. The beautifully bred Lizzie L'Amour is a direct descendant of celebrated blue hen Best In Show. Close family members include Gr1 winning sires Denon and Good Journey, and multiple Gr1 winner and producer Chimes Of Freedom. This is arguably the most sought after bloodline in the world, with other esteemed members including multiple champion Australian sire Redoute's Choice, Hurricane Sky, Umatilla, Xaar, Al Maher, Sex Appeal (dam of stallion heavyweights Try My Best & El Gran Senor), Kentucky Oaks winner Blush With Pride, and her daughter Better Than Honour, who fetched a world-record price of US$14 million for a broodmare in 2008 and is the dam of US classic winners Rags To Riches & Jazil.
Group One winning Kiwi mare Lizzie L'Amour (Zabeel-Sabia, by Sadler's Wells) will miss Saturday's Caulfield Cup in preference for the Gr3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on 25 October, reports racenet. Co-trainer Murray Baker said connections could not justify paying the $25,000 acceptance fee for the Caulfield Cup after the 5YOs sub-par performance (10th of 12) in the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m) on Sunday. "There is the Geelong Cup and the Moonee Valley Cup but we thought the Geelong track might suit her better," Baker said. "Of course she might bump into a couple of the internationals but that's the way it is at this time of year." Baker added: "It's frustrating as she's just had no luck in her three starts here but we'll try and turn things around."
Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman will decide in the next few days whether Lizzie L'Amour will join stable-mates Bonneval and Jon Snow in the $3.15 million Gr1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 5YO daughter of Zabeel, who hails from the outstanding Best in Show family of champion sire Redoute's Choice, turned in a sub-par performance when unplaced behind Folkswood in the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m) on Sunday. "She got a long way back and never got into the race," Baker said. "She hasn't had a lot of luck in her three runs over here." Baker added: "She pulled up well so I'll speak to the owners about whether we pay up for the Cup. There are a lot of other options to discuss for her." A winner of the Gr1 New Zealand Stakes in March, Lizzie L'Amour was a first-up seventh in the Gr2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) when pulling up with atrial fibrillation, before a most unlucky sixth in the Gr2 Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
While Kiwi mare Lizzie L'Amour may be under a cloud for Saturday's $3.15 million Gr1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), her stable-mates Bonneval and Jon Snow have been declared in top order for the world's richest mile-and-a-half handicap. Bonneval and Jon Snow have both been in excellent form this campaign with the former winning both the Gr2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes and Gr1 Underwood Stakes (1800m), before running sixth in Saturday's Gr1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m). "I'm very happy with her. She was last at the 800m and got baulked a couple of times in the straight," co-trainer Murray Baker told NZ Racing Desk. Jon Snow followed up his Gr3 JRA Cup (2040m) win with a solid third placing in the Caulfield Stakes behind the winner Gailo Chop. "He had to run a fast first 600m to get a position and he did very well," Baker said. "Both horses are right on target."
Co-trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman are set to add to their Melbourne spring carnival string with lightly raced Victoria Derby hopeful Vin De Dance, reports NZ Racing Desk. The high-profile New Zealand stable already has Group One winners Bonneval, Jon Snow and Lizzie L'Amour in Melbourne along with three-year-old Weather With You who is also on a Derby path. Vin De Dance races in the colours of OTI Racing and won a 1200m maiden on debut last month in New Zealand on heavy ground before finishing second in Benchmark 65 races over 1400m and 1600m at Te Rapa. "Vin De Dance heads over on Wednesday," Forsman said. "He's a Derby candidate. He's a lightly tried son of Roc De Cambes that is owned by OTI. They want to have a crack at a Derby." Forsman added: "He's run three very good races and if he can stay he'll be competitive." The $1.5 million Gr1 Victoria Derby (2500m) will be run at Flemington on 4 November.
Kiwi 3YO Weather With You (Teofilo-Tarique, by Rock of Gibraltar) will continue his Classic preparation when he contests the Victoria Derby Trial (1800m) at Flemington today, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman-trained gelding, who races in the same green and black epaulette colours as multiple Gr1 winning miler Turn Me Loose, was brought to Melbourne for the Spring along with Gr1-winning stable mates Bonneval, Jon Snow and Lizzie L'Amour. The son of Teofilo will be having the second start of his campaign after finishing second in a 1400m maiden at his Australian debut at Sandown on 6 September. "I thought he ran well," Baker said. "I certainly think he will be better suited up to the 1800 metres. It's a nice big track and he's a staying horse who should come into his own the further he goes." Baker said the stable earmarked the Victoria Derby as a target for Weather With You after his second to Qiji Phoenix in the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie in April. "After he ran second in that, and got beaten by a very good horse, we thought we might have a look at the Derby," Baker explained. "Jezabeel won that race and Kibbutz ran third in that race." Jezabeel went on to win the 1998 Melbourne Cup while Kibbutz won the 2007 Victoria Derby.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Lizzie L'Amour (Zabeel-Sabia, by Sadler's Wells) will need luck on her side if she is to join her stable-mates Bonneval and Jon Snow in the $3.15 million Gr1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on 21 October, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 5YO daughter of Zabeel, who hails from the outstanding Best in Show family of champion sire Redoute's Choice, is currently ranked 41st in the order of entry, but Baker is not overly concerned. "It's early days," he said. "They drop out a lot, so we'll just wait and see what happens." There are 12 internationals ahead of Lizzie L'Amour in the order of entry, but only five of those - Admire Deus, Francis of Assisi, Steel of Madrid, Johannes Vermeer and Marmelo – are expected to line up in the world's richest mile-and-a-half handicap. A winner of the Gr1 New Zealand Stakes in March, Lizzie L'Amour was prima facie disappointing when resuming with a seventh placing in the Gr2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m), however a subsequent diagnosis of atrial fibrillation was revealed as the reason. "She's been good as gold since," Baker said. "She's had a jump out and has passed everything. We just left it to the vet to treat her, she's righted herself and everything is okay." Lizzie L'Amour is set to make her next appearance in the Gr2 Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Friday week.
Australian Derby winner Jon Snow (Iffraaj-Orinda, by O'Reilly) will be the first of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman's quartet of Melbourne spring carnival contenders to step out when he resumes in Saturday's $1 million Gr1 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 4YO entire will be ridden by local jockey Stephen Baster. "Over 1400 metres in that class of field might be a bit sharp for him, but he travelled over well and galloped strongly under Baster this morning [Tuesday]," Forsman said. Jon Snow was accompanied to Australia by fellow Group One winners Bonneval and Lizzie L'Amour, who will resume in the Gr2 Dato Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday week. Three-year-old Teofilo gelding Weather With You is likely to open his Victoria Derby campaign next week at Sandown. "At this stage he'll run in a three-year-old 1400 metre maiden," Forsman said.
Premier New Zealand trainers Andrew Forsman & Murray Baker are likely to avoid a clash with champion mare Winx in the Cox Plate with their highly regarded quartet in the spring, reports NZ racing Desk. "While Winx is around the Cox Plate is very much a back-up plan," said Forsman. "The Caulfield Cup is more the focus." Forsman was referring to the Cambridge trainers' classy spring contenders Bonneval, Eleonora, Jon Snow and Lizzie L'Amour who will campaign exclusively in Melbourne. "Bonneval is doing as well as she can and once she gets to Melbourne she will really improve. She will most likely kick off in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes [Gr2 over 1600m at Moonee Valley on 2 September] or the Makybe Diva [Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes over 1600m at Flemington on 9 Sept]," Forsman said. "Jon Snow has strengthened up a lot, he has gone to another level. There's no reason he can't reach the heights of Mongolian Khan. He is likely to resume in the Gr1 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes. He's more forward and the fastest of the others and he could run a cheeky fresh-up 1400." Lizzie L'Amour has also pleased her connections as she prepares to embark on a Cups' campaign. "She's by Zabeel out of a Sadler's Wells mare so she's bred to stay and she's already a Group One winner at weight-for-age over 2000m," Forsman said. "She's coming up a treat. Once the cups come around she could get a piece of it." Forsman confirmed Eleonora would also be aimed at the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
Record-setting trainer Murray Baker is assembling his most formidable team for the upcoming spring carnival in Melbourne, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Cambridge horseman posted his 20th Group One victory in Australia, more than any other New Zealand trainer, when outstanding filly Bonneval won the Australian Oaks in the autumn. Bonneval (Makfi-Imposingly, by Zabeel) is one of three contenders that Baker is aiming at the Caulfield Cup, along with Australian Derby hero Jon Snow and Gr1 New Zealand Stakes winner Lizzie l'Amour. The trio are likely to launch their Australian campaigns in either the Gr1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on 2 September, or the Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) a week later at Flemington. "They will all be looking at the Caulfield Cup and Lizzie l'Amour could run in some fillies and mares' races on the way through," Baker said. "She's [Bonneval] very good and she's got to be a big chance to get the Horse of the Year." Baker added: "She won two Oaks and at Randwick she was just outstanding. You wouldn't have given her a chance 500 metres from home and yet she won by four and a half lengths."
The strength of New Zealand's 3YO crop is emphasised by the release of the finalists for the 2016-17 New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards, reports NZ Racing Desk. New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing has announced the finalists for five of the six racehorse categories, with the finalists for the Jumper of the Year to be finalised later in the month. The five finalists for Three-Year-Old of the Year have all been classic winners this season and Bonneval and Gingernuts were Group One winners on both sides of the Tasman. Jon Snow was a dual Group One placegetter in New Zealand and a Group One and Group Two winner in Australia, while La Diosa was a Group One winner in New Zealand and a Group Two winner in Australia. All finalists are also eligible for the Horse of the Year award, which will be announced at a gala dinner in Auckland, at the Langham Hotel, on Sunday, 10th September.
Co-trainer Andrew Scott is expecting a bold showing from Sound Proposition if he can force his way into the field for Saturday's Gr1 Doomben Cup (2000m) in Brisbane, reports NZ Racing Desk. Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) was among the entries for last Saturday's Gr3 Chairman's Handicap at Doomben, but his trainers elected to bypass the feature and concentrate on the Doomben Cup. "As it turned out he was going to get 58 kilos and the weather was not the greatest," Scott said. "We felt it was better to sit back and wait for the Doomben Cup. He's still a wee way down the order, but hopefully he'll get in." Sound Proposition has had just two starts since a setback in the Gr1 Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. "He had heart fibrillation on Boxing Day and has had an interrupted campaign in New Zealand this season," Scott said. "He seems fine now and has settled in well in Brisbane. This is his main goal." Sound Proposition's two starts this year have resulted in a third in the Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes behind Lizzie L'Amour at Ellerslie on March 16 then a fifth to Seventh Up in the Gr2 Easter Stakes, a race he won in 2016 when it carried Group One status.
Despite an interrupted campaign, connections of Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) are confident the talented galloper can mount a successful defence of his title in Saturday's Gr2 Easter Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie, reports theinformant.co.nz. The 5YO Savabeel gelding landed the biggest prize of his career when capturing the Easter Stakes in April last year. On that occasion the mile feature was run at Gr1 level, but it has since been downgraded to Gr2 status by the New Zealand Pattern Committee (NZPC). Sound Proposition has only had four starts since then, with his most recent performance resulting in a fast-finishing third in the Gr1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m) behind Lizzie L'Amour. "We're very pleased with him," co-trainer Andrew Scott said. "His last start showed that he's getting back to his best. He hadn't run for a couple of months before that and was fresh-up over 2000 metres, so it was a big effort. We think he's improved since then." Scott added: "We're aware he's got a bit more weight this year (58kg top weight, compared to 55 kg last year), but he's a year older and his body weight and condition are very good. As long as the track continues to improve (rated a Heavy 10 this morning), we believe he'll be a good chance."
Gr1-winning Kiwi mare Lizzie L'Amour has been sent to the spelling paddock, reports NZ racing Desk. The 4YO daughter of Zabeel, who hails from the outstanding Best in Show family of champion sire Redoute's Choice, has been sent for a well-deserved break after her maiden top-flight victory in last Thursday's Gr1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie. "She's a Group One weight-for-age winner and there's not much else for her," co-trainer Andrew Forsman said. "The BMW will roll around too soon for her so she can have two months off before the spring. She's still mentally a bit frail and any time we give her will help."
The Gr3 Wellington Cup (3200m) on Saturday week has long been a target race for the Shaune Ritchie-trained Snow Secret, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 5YO mare finished runner up to Lizzie L'Amour in the Gr3 Waikato Cup two starts back, before a midfield finish in the Gr3 City Of Auckland Cup on New Year's Day. "I felt her run in the Waikato Cup was excellent and she was taking ground off the winner," Ritchie said. "Her run in the City of Auckland Cup was the run of a horse looking for 3200m. When they quickened up, she kept plugging away to the line and I think the two-miles at Trentham will really suit her." Snow Secret (Sakhee's Secret-Snowmobeel, by Zabeel) finished fourth in the Wellington Cup last year behind Mister Impatience and Ritchie said she had strengthened enormously over the past 12 months. "She performed very well in the race last year as a soft four-year-old mare. She's certainly a much more developed, much stronger horse this season," he said.
At Te Rapa in New Zealand, Cambridge Stud's deceased multiple Champion sire Zabeel (Sir Tristram-Lady Giselle, by Nureyev) added a Group success when 4YO mare Lizzie L'Amour (Zabeel-Sabia, by Sadler's Wells) scored by 0.75 length for trainers Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman in the NZ$100,000 Gr3 Waikato Cup (2400m) for 3YO+, over 5YO mare Snow Secret (Sakhee's Secret-Snowmobeel, by Zabeel) & 5YO gelding Megablast (Shinko King-Thirst, by Desert Sun). Co-trainer Murray Baker said Lizzie L'Amour is likely to make her next appearance in the Gr3 City of Auckland Cup at Ellerslie on New Year's Day. The beautifully bred Lizzie L'Amour sent her value soaring being a direct descendant of celebrated blue hen Best In Show. Close family members include Gr1 winning sires Denon and Good Journey, and multiple Gr1 winner and producer Chimes Of Freedom. This is arguably the most sought after bloodline in the world, with other esteemed members including champion Australian sire Redoute's Choice, Hurricane Sky, Umatilla, Xaar, Al Maher, Sex Appeal (dam of stallion heavyweights Try My Best & El Gran Senor), Kentucky Oaks winner Blush With Pride, and her daughter Better Than Honour, who fetched a world-record price of US$14 million for a broodmare in 2008 and is the dam of US classic winners Rags To Riches & Jazil.