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."
Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman will be relying on the raw talent of a well-related filly to defend the stable's title in Saturday's Gr3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) at Trentham, reports NZ Racing Desk. The champion Cambridge trainers won the 3YO fillies feature 12 months ago with Nicoletta while their subsequent multiple Group One winner Bonneval finished third. "We had a strong hand last year and this year it will be up to Milseain, a full-sister to Werther," Forsman said. "She won her first start at Hastings and while it was a maiden race she did it all well." By Tavistock out of the Zabeel mare Bagalollies, Milseain was a $300,000 purchase at the 2016 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of Highden Park. Apart from Hong Kong Horse of the Year Werther, Milseain is also a full-sister to Gr3 Auckland Cup winner Gobstopper. Milseain looked a very smart filly indeed when bounding clear over the concluding stages to score an easy debut win in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Maiden Stakes (1400m) on New Year's Day. "The race turned a bit ugly and wasn't run how we thought so for a green filly to overcome all that at her first start was very impressive and she's got the pedigree to match," Forsman said. "She lacks a bit of ring craft, but hopefully she can do it." Highden Park will offer a full-sister to Werther and Milseain (Lot 48) during Book 1 of the upcoming NZB Premier Yearling Sale.
The 2016-17 New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series is going right down to the wire in tomorrow's 10th and final leg, the $300,000 Gr1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham. With 12 points awarded to the winner, there are three possible Filly of the Year Series champions in Saturday's field – Bonneval (Makfi) currently tops the table with 15.5 points, while Nicoletta (Savabeel) and Devise (Darci Brahma) are both within striking distance with 10 and 6.5 points respectively. Those three fillies have fought a fierce rivalry through the second half of the Series. In the Group 3 Wellfield Desert Gold Stakes (1600m), Nicoletta was first with Devise second and Bonneval third. Then Bonneval took out the Group 2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic (2000m), beating Nicoletta and Devise. In the Group 3 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2100m), Bonneval again came out on top with Devise third and Nicoletta fourth. Second in the lowland was the Series newcomer Savvy Dreams (Savabeel), who is again among the opposition in Saturday's classic. She has 3 Filly of the Year Series points to her name. Other runners in Saturday's field who appear on the points table are Dreamcrafter (Mastercraftsman) with 3, Date Night (Savabeel) with 2 and Dame Margo Fonteyn (High Chaparral) with 1.5. The Oaks will be run as race 8 on Saturday with a start time of 4.36pm (local time).
At Te Rapa in New Zealand, Westbury Stud's three-time Gr1-winning shuttle stallion Makfi (Dubawi-Dhelaal, by Green Desert) added a Group success when 3YO filly Bonneval (Makfi-Imposingly, by Zabeel) scored by a head for trainers Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman in the $100,000 Gr2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) for 3YO fillies, over fellow filly and stable-mate Nicoletta (Savabeel-Celtic Crown, by Doneraile Court ) & Devise (Darci Brahma-Doneze Girl, by Volksraad ). Bonneval, who was purchased by Baker Racing for $150,000 at the 2015 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of Westbury Stud, improved her record to 2 wins and 1 placing (the Gr3 WRC Desert Gold Stakes) from 5 starts for $82,750 earnings. Murray Baker knew the only way to try and end the winning streak of Volpe Veloce at Te Rapa was to ensure the Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic was run at a genuine tempo, reports NZ Racing Desk. "We knew the only way we could beat her was to make it a staying test - Volpe Veloce is an outstanding filly and she'd won seven straight. I can't recall that being done since Sunline," Baker said. Bonneval had been set alight by Matt Cameron 700 metres from home and the Makfi filly was able to sustain a long run to earn a head decision over her barn mate. "She's a very good filly and both of them [Bonneval & Nicoletta] will be heading to Trentham for the Oaks [Gr1 New Zealand Oaks]," Baker said. The well-bred Bonneval is a full sister to Gr3 winner Imposing Lass and a half-sister to Gr3 winners Full Of Spirit (Flying Spur) and Lady Cumquat (Duke Of Marmalade) from Imposingly (Zabeel), a three-quarter sister to New Zealand Derby winner St Reims and Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes winner and Melbourne Cup runner-up Champagne (both by Zabeel).
Outstanding Kiwi filly Volpe Veloce (Foxwedge) will try to add to her perfect record and strengthen her lead in the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series when she contests tomorrow's $100,000 Gr2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa. The Graham Richardson-trained runner has won all of her seven starts to date, including the Gr3 Eulogy Stakes (1600m) and Gr2 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic (1600m). Those victories earned her 14 points in the Filly of the Year Series, which she leads by two points over La Diosa (So You Think). A last-start winner of the $250,000 Listed NZB Insurance Karaka 3YO Mile (1600m), Volpe Veloce will face seven rivals in Saturday's race. None of them are close enough to Volpe Veloce on the points table to overhaul her if they win, although the Gr3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) winner Nicoletta (Savabeel) has 6 points and could take an equal share of the lead if she wins and Volpe Veloce is unplaced. Devise (Darci Brahma) has 3 points, Grand Soleil (Savabeel) has 2 and Bonneval (Makfi) has 1. Tomorrow's race is worth 8 points to the winner, 4 points for second and 2 points for third.
Nicoletta and Bonneval will resume their rivalry in the Gr2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Classic at Te Rapa on Saturday week, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Gr1 New Zealand Oaks contenders finished first and third respectively when they last met in the Gr3 Desert Gold Stakes at Trentham. Meanwhile, barn-mate and Gr1 Victoria Oaks placegetter Eleonora had her return delayed when she was galloped on in a trial this month. Her New Zealand Oaks hopes are in doubt, but she remains on track for the $1 million Gr1 Australian Oaks at Randwick on 8 April.
At Trentham in New Zealand on Saturday, Waikato Stud's Cox Plate winning stallion Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success, by Success Express) added a Group success when 3YO filly Nicoletta (Savabeel-Celtic Crown, by Doneraile Court) scored by a short head for trainers Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman in the NZ$70,000 Gr3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) for 3YO fillies, over fellow fillies Devise (Darci Brahma-Doneze Girl, by Volksraad) & Bonneval (Makfi-Imposingly, by Zabeel). Nicoletta, who was purchased by bloodstock agent Bruce Perry on behalf of owner Lib Petagna for $90,000 at the 2015 NZB Select Yearling Sale from the draft of Goodwood Stud, improved her record to 2 wins and 1 placing from 6 starts for NZ$52,375 earnings. Co-trainer Andrew Forsman confirmed Nicoletta was on a path towards the Gr1 New Zealand Oaks. "We've always thought that Nicoletta is a real Oaks filly so to do what she has done over a mile is very encouraging," he told NZ Racing Desk.
Nicoletta earned 6 points and moved into equal fifth place on the points table for the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year series when landing the $70,000 Gr3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday. An unlucky fifth in the Gr2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day, this time things went Nicoletta's way. After sitting in third place behind a slow pace, Nicoletta surged to the lead in the straight and fought gamely to beat the favourite Devise (Darci Brahma) by a short head. Bonneval (Makfi) was third. "She got out of the gates well today, which was a big bonus, and she got the soft run" said co-trainer Andrew Forsman. "We've always thought she's a real Oaks filly, so what she's done over 1600 metres is encouraging. Nicoletta was bred by Goodwood Stud, who offered her at the 2015 Select Sale. Lib Petagna's bloodstock manager Bruce Perry purchased her for $90,000. Gr3 Eulogy Stakes and Gr2 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic winner Volpe Veloce (Foxwedge) continues to top the table with 14 points, with NZ 1000 Guineas winner La Diosa (So You Think) second with 12 points. The Series continues with the $100,000 Gr2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 11. The race has already been confirmed as Nicoletta's next target.