Beautifully named Gr1 ARC New Zealand Stakes (2000m) winning gelding Saint Emilion has signalled a productive campaign in in store following a recent 1200m trial win at Avondale this week, reports NZ Racing Desk. Leading in his customary fashion, Saint Emilion cruised to the line to defeat stablemate Highlad by a head. Co-trainer Andrew Forsman enthused, "They both trialled up really well. Saint Emilion was as competitive as usual, but Matt [Cameron] felt he didn't really cop the track. He could possibly kick off in the open 1600m at Te Rapa and so could Highlad. He (Highlad) is also coming up well." Both Saint Emilion and Highland appear to have thrived since pre-spell wins in the Gr3 Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) and Gr3 Rotorua Cup (2200m) respectively and add additional fire power to a Baker-Forsman stable that includes guns Bonneval, Zacada, Jon Snow, together with Mongolian Marshal and Madison County (both also heat winners at Avondale) and promising juveniles Rubira and Botti. Interestingly, Saint Emilion (by Mastercraftsman) is assumedly named after the 8th Century Italian monk of the same name who carved his hermitage into a rock.
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.
At Riccarton in New Zealand, 4-time Gr1-winning NZ Windsor Park shuttler & former European Champion 2YO Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer-Starlight Dreams, by Black Tie Affair) added a Group race success when 6YO New Zealand-bred gelding Saint Emilion (Mastercraftsman-Roseario, by Pentire) fought back when headed in the straight to score a narrow but brave front-running win in the $100,000 Gr3 Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) for 3YO+, defeating Who Dares Wins & Boots 'N' All. Saint Emilion, who was passed in for $76,000 at the 2013 NZ Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale, improved his record to 14 wins (including the Gr1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes & Gr3 Alison Stakes) & 4 placings (including the Listed Hawkes Bay Gold Cup) from 38 starts for NZ$445,845 in earnings.
At Ellerslie in Auckland, 4-time Gr1-winning NZ Windsor Park shuttler & former European Champion 2YO Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer-Starlight Dreams, by Black Tie Affair) celebrated a Gr1 success when 6YO gelding Saint Emilon (Mastercraftsman-Roseario, by Pentire defied all-comers to score by xxx for trainers Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman in the $200,000 Gr1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) from consistent 4YO mare Darscape Princess & 8YO gelding Authentic Paddy. Finally getting the big race monkey off his back after always being there and thereabouts, Saint Emilion soon found himself in front and simply played catch-me-if-you-can tactics to which his rivals had no answer. "When he's in that mood he's hard to catch," co-trainer Andrew Forsman said. "He was cruising and he really deserved that." Off a quick winning prep which saw him go from a 1200m trial to 1500m and then 2000m to land a double, Saint Emilion improved his record to 13 wins (including the Gr3 Alison Stakes) & 4 placings (including the Listed Hawkes Bay Gold Cup) from 36 starts for $387,045 earnings. He went through the ring for $76,000 yearling, consigned by Little Avondale Stud at Karaka's 2013 NZB Yearling Sales Series, but was retained by his breeder when failing to make his $80,000 reserve. "He was bred by my late wife, and she took him to the sales," widower Mike Brown said. "The bid wasn't enough and she took him home. Unfortunately she didn't get to see him race, but he's honouring her memory. We're over the moon."
Reigning New Zealand Horse of the Year Bonneval (Makfi-Imposingly, by Zabeel) continued her build-up to the autumn when trialling well at Cambridge on Monday, reports NZ Racing Desk. The multiple Group One winner finished third in her 1200 metre heat behind stable-mates Saint Emilion and Weather With You. "She ran on nicely and she probably needs another trial before she races in Sydney over a mile in the Chipping Norton," said Murray Baker, who trains in partnership with Andrew Forsman. The $600,000 Gr1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) will be run at Royal Randwick on 3 March. Bonneval had a mixed spring carnival winning the Gr1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) and Gr2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) in Melbourne, before finishing a well beaten 14th in the Caulfield Cup on 21 October.
Boom Kiwi colt Heroic Valour will step out in a 1000 metre heat for black type performers before the opening event of Friday's Taupo meeting, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 3YO Australian-bred son of Fastnet Rock, who is a half-brother to Gr1 Doncaster Handicap winner Triple Honour, extended his unbeaten record to three when scoring a last stride victory in the Gr1 Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie in March. Trained by Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards on behalf of Te Akau Racing, Heroic Valour is being aimed towards the Gr1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas in November. Friday's trial will also feature last season's Gr2 Hawke's Bay Guineas winner Amarula and the talented Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained quartet of Coldplay, Saint Emilion, Maygrove and Get That Jive.
One of New Zealand's leading stables is aiming for multiple representation in all three legs of the Triple Crown series at Hastings, reports NZ Racing Desk. Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman have Mime and the Australian recruit Our Vergara on target for the opening two legs - the Gr1 Makfi Challenge Stakes and the Gr1 Windsor Park Plate - with Saint Emilion a chance to join them in the closing event, the Gr1 Livamol Spring Classic. Mime will become the first New Zealand representative for the powerful China Horse Club, who purchased the Mastercraftsman mare earlier this year. "We think she can be competitive in all three races," said Andrew Forsman, who prepares the four-year-old with Murray Baker. Mime, who placed in her 1000 metre heat at the recent Te Teko trials, enjoyed a lucrative three-year-old season with four wins, including the Gr2 Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic and the Gr3 Sunline Vase before being spelled after she ran fourth in the Gr1 NZ Oaks. "It was a good solid effort at the trials and she had a good blow," Forsman said. "She's grown quite a bit and strengthened." Former Sydney mare Our Vergara, who ran a tidy fourth in a 1000 metre heat at the Te Teko trials, has been sent to New Zealand to chase Group One honours and to be served by Tavistock. "She's got a great temperament and takes everything in her stride," Forsman said. Meanwhile, Saint Emilion has risen to a rating of 99 after winning seven races last season and he has returned in fine order following a deserved break. "He's had his first serious gallop and he's making good progress," Forsman said.
At Hastings in New Zealand, Rich Hill Stud's dual Gr1-winning stallion Pentire (Be My Guest-Gull Nook, by Mill Reef) added a black-type success when 4YO mare Chenille (Pentire-Charmed, by O'Reilly) scored by 1.5-lengths for trainer Tony Pike as favourite in the NZ$75,000 Listed Hawkes Bay Gold Cup (22000m), over 5YO gelding Saint Emilion (Mastercraftsman-Roseario, by Pentire) & fellow 4YO mare Savaria (Savabeel-Amathea, by O'Reilly). A NZ$55,000 purchase by Chris Waller from the draft of Longhands Stud at the 2013 NZB national Yearling Sales Series, Chenille's first stakes victory took her record to 5 wins & 7 placings from 17 starts for NZ$138,025 earnings.
In Japan, multiple Gr1-winning former NZ Java Lodge & Independent Stallions Victoria shuttler Zenno Rob Roy (Sunday Silence-Roamin Rachel, by Mining) added a group quinella when daughter Saint Emilion (Zenno Rob Roy-Moteck, by Last Tycoon) scored a 1-length victory in the ¥100.68m (A$1.158m) Gr2 Sho Flora Stakes (2000m) for 3YO fillies at Tokyo. Saint Emilion (ridden by Norihiro Yokoyama for trainer Masaaki Koga) defeated Agnes Waltz (Zenno Rob Roy-Merlot Sweet, by Hector Protector) & Blooming Alley (Symboli Kris S-Princess Olivia, by Lycius). Saint Emilion took her record to 3 wins & a placing (in March’s Gr3 Hai Flower Cup over 1800m at Nakayama) from 4 starts.