2018

First Foal For Oaks Winner

Friday, 28th September 2018

Meanwhile, Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) gave birth to her first foal, a filly by Savabeel, on Thursday, reports NZ Racing Desk. "She foaled this morning at Waikato Stud and they are already back at Blandford Lodge. By all reports, it's a very good first foal," said Bruce Perry, bloodstock manager for Sofia Rosa's New Zealand owner Lib Petagna. "She's a brilliant mum, amazing. She's taken to it like a duck to water. Maybe she was meant to be a broodmare more than a racehorse...." Sofia Rosa won 5 of her 24 starts for nearly $970,000 in earnings.

Sofia Rosa (image: Steve Hart)

Impressive Black-Type Win for Santa Catarina

Monday, 7th May 2018

Savabeel filly Santa Catarina (NZ) was unable to reach her $80,000 reserve as a yearling at Karaka, but an impressive win in Saturday's $50,000 Listed Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre Stakes (1100m) at Te Rapa confirmed her status as a valuable filly with a bright future. Santa Catarina was bred by Lib Petagna's JML Bloodstock Ltd, and was offered at the 2017 Premier Sale by Blandford Lodge which is part-owned by Petagna. When the filly went unsold at Karaka, she was retained by Petagna to race in his familiar apple green, blue and yellow colours, which have been carried to Group 1 glory by the likes of Karaka graduates Lucia Valentina (Savabeel) and Sofia Rosa (Makfi). Trained by Stephen Marsh and ridden by Danielle Johnson, Santa Catarina got back in the field before unleashing a withering finish to catch fellow Karaka graduate Cavallo Veloce (O'Reilly) right on the line. "This is a race that we've been targeting, and we thought we had a right royal chance. She's a smart filly and she won well," said Marsh. "It's great to get a Listed win for these colours – Lib Petagna and his manager Bruce Perry. She's a lovely Savabeel filly who's now a stakes winner. It's our job to try to get black type for these fillies, and it's job done for her. It's all in front of her as a three-year-old next season."

Four Successive Oaks for Karaka Graduates

Monday, 16th April 2018

Unforgotten became the fourth consecutive NZ Bloodstock graduate to win the time-honoured Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday. The sequence began in 2015 when Gust of Wind (Darci Brahma), a $90,000 Premier Sale purchase, beat subsequent superstar mare Winx to claim the race. Gust Of Wind is the last horse to defeat Winx who has now won 25 races in succession. The $65,000 Select Sale buy Sofia Rosa (Makfi) followed in 2016, then Bonneval (Makfi) last year. Bought for $150,000 at the 2015 Premier Sale, Bonneval was crowned New Zealand's Horse of the Year for 2016-17. Champion ex-pat New Zealand trainer Chris Waller secured Unforgotten for $360,000 at the 2016 Premier Sale, and the filly was quick to show promise with four wins from her first seven starts including the Gr2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) in mid-March. Unforgotten was bred by Roncon and was offered by Curraghmore at the 2016 Premier Sale. Raced by Waller, Magic Bloodstock Racing, Mr F W Cook, Mrs C M Cook, Mr N A Greenhalgh, Mrs M T Greenhalgh, Mr R Shrimpton, Mrs C Shrimpton, Mr I Bruce, Mr R Smith, Mr P Y W Ng, Mr K H Warriner, Mr J T C Lake and Mr B L Mathieson, Unforgotten has now won five of her nine starts for $1,095,520 in earnings.

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Pitman Has Faith in Savvy Coup

Thursday, 12th April 2018

New Zealand trainer Michael Pitman is bullish about the prospects of smart filly Savvy Coup (Savabeel-Eudora, by Pins) claiming the trans Tasman Oaks double when she contests the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday. Savvy Coup has established herself as the dominant staying filly in New Zealand having posted impressive wins in the Gr3 Lowland Stakes (2100m) and Gr1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at her past two outings. Those are the same two lead-up races used by fellow Kiwi fillies Bonneval and Sofia Rosa before going on to claim the Australian Oaks in 2017 and 2016 respectively. "It's a well-worn path going through the Lowlands to the Oaks then the Oaks here," Pitman told racingnsw.com.au. "She has a good turn of foot. Her sectionals have always been pretty quick and she has good tactical speed that a lot of horses don't have." Pitman added: "It's a big bonus for us this one, already having the NZ Oaks in the bank." Savvy Coup is on the third line of betting for the Aust Oaks at $7.50 with TAB. The Chris Waller-trained Unforgotten is favourite in a relatively open race at $4.

Eighth NZB Filly Of the Year Leg Key Oaks Trial

Wednesday, 28th February 2018

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.

Zacada Wins Gr2 Avondale Cup

Tuesday, 2nd January 2018

At Ellerslie in Auckland, Cambridge Stud's deceased multiple Champion sire Zabeel (Sir Tristram-Lady Giselle, by Nureyev) added another Group race success to his bulging resumé when promising staying 5YO gelding Zacada (Zabeel-Lacada, by Giant's Causeway) simply packed too many guns with an impressive 2-lengths win for trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman in the $200,000 Gr2 Avondale Cup (2400m). Getting onto the coat-tails of Sofia Rosa who made a dash around the pack into the straight, Zacada took to the outside of the track to outpoint 5YO mare Wildflower (Keeper-Zygadene, by Zabeel) & fellow 5YO gelding Five To Midnight (Domesday-Fastnet Lady, by Fastnet Rock). Brought across to Australia with high hopes of running in the Gr1 Victoria Derby after a dashing debut win in 2015, Zacada was sent home after two disappointing runs, but now looks a class act with more maturity. A $135,000 yearling pass-in consigned by Cambridge Stud at the 2014 NZB National Yearling Sales Series, Zacada now how 4 wins and 11 placings (including the Gr3 Wellington Stakes & Listed 3YO Salver) from 27 starts for $193,872 earnings. Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan retain part ownership in Zacada. The win extended Baker and Forsman's lead at the head of New Zealand's National Trainer's Premiership which they sit atop with 59 wins, 21 clear of nearest rivals Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards. The race was also notable as it was the final racetrack appearance for Gr1 Australian Oaks heroine Sofia Rosa who is in foal to Savabeel.

Zacada

Exciting staying prospect Zacada (pic: Trish Dunell)

2017

Kawi Wins Gr1 Captain Cook Stakes

Monday, 11th December 2017

At Trentham in New Zealand, Waikato Stud's Cox Plate winning stallion Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success, by Success Express) celebrated an elite race success when 7YO New Zealand-bred gelding Kawi (Savabeel-Magic Time, by Volksraad) scored a gallant win in the $200,000 Gr1 weight-for-age Gr1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) for 3YO+, defeating Consensus & Sofia Rosa. Kawi advanced his record to 15 wins (including the Gr1 WFA Classic, Gr1 Windsor Park Plate, Gr1 Makfi Challenge Stakes - twice, Gr1 Thorndon Mile, Gr1 Zabeel Classic, Gr3 Taranaki Cup & Listed Anniversary Handicap) and 11 placings (including the Gr1 Windsor Park Plate, Gr1 Easter Handicap & Gr1 Herbie Dyke Stakes) from 37 starts for NZ$1,217,149 in earnings. "He's a very good horse – he sat four wide and that's not how we saw it, but he was tough enough," trainer Allan Sharrock told NZ Racing Desk. "He was travelling on the corner, it was a terrific effort." The Captain Cook was Kawi's seventh Group 1 victory and saw him draw level with champion mare Seachange. Kawi needs just one more top-flight success to equal the feat of former two-time New Zealand Horse of the Year Mufhasa who holds the record of eight domestic Group 1 wins.

Ready To Run Breeze Ups Available Online

Friday, 20th October 2017

Breeze Up videos for New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2017 Ready to Run Sale of 2YOs are now available to view online. 393 youngsters breezed over 200m into gustily winds down the home straight at Te Rapa racecourse earlier this week. The overall quality of horses that breezed up emulates a strong catalogue on type set to be offered at Karaka on 22 & 23 November. Graduates of the sale have won 19 Group 1 races and 110 stakes race in the last five seasons alone. This year’s catalogue has attracted 437 two-year-olds with a cross-section of the very best sires throughout Australasia represented and 14 exciting freshman sires. Highlights include:

  • 51 siblings to stakes winners including siblings to Group 1 winners Adventador, Savaria, Sofia Rosa, Magic Cape, Zabrasive, Able One, Kawi, Lankan Rupee, Brambles, King Mufhasa, and Silent Achiever.
  • The progeny of 31 stakes winners including Group 1-winning dams Champagne and Quintessential.
  • 38 horses nominated for the Karaka Million Series, six fillies nominated for the Pearl Series, 128 horses that are BOBS eligible, 19 Super VOBIS nominated horses and one QTIS eligible horse.

Click here to view high definition video of breeze ups. Click here to view catalogue.

Ready To Run Catalogue Brimming With Quality

Monday, 11th September 2017

The catalogue for New Zealand Bloodstock's Ready to Run Sale of Two-Year-Olds is now available online. Graduates of the Sale have claimed 110 stakes wins including 19 Group 1 races in the past five seasons alone, cementing its position as a prolific producer of successful racehorses. Headlined by the recent Group 1-winning performances of Gingernuts (Iffraaj) and Hall of Fame (Savabeel), graduates of the Sale have won races such as the Rosehill Guineas, New Zealand Derby, Levin Classic, Futurity Stakes, Emirates Stakes, New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas, Caulfield Cup, Australian Derby & Victoria Derby. Catalogue highlights include:

  • 49 siblings to stakes performers including siblings to Group 1 winners Adventador, Savaria, Sofia Rosa, Magic Cape, Zabrasive, Able One, Kawi, Silent Achiever, Brambles and King Mufhasa, as well as Group 1-placed Strada Cavallo, Allez Eagle, Fazzle, Formality, Frolic and Kabayan.
  • New Zealand sires such as Alamosa, Dalghar, Darci Brahma, Guillotine, Iffraaj, Jimmy Choux, Keeper, Makfi, Niagara, Ocean Park, O'Reilly, Pins, Pentire, Per Incanto, Power, Redwood, Reliable Man, Rip Van Winkle, Rock 'n' Pop, Savabeel, Shamexpress, Shocking, Showcasing, Super Easy, Swiss Ace, Tavistock and Zacinto.
  • Australian sires such as All Too Hard, Animal Kingdom, Choisir, Delago Deluxe, Denman, Epaulette, Exceed And Excel, Fastnet Rock, Foxwedge, Hinchinbrook, I Am Invincible, Jakkalberry, Medaglia d'Oro, More Than Ready, Pierro, Redoute's Choice, Smart Missile, Snitzel, So You Think, The Factor and Written Tycoon.

Every horse entered in the Ready to Run Sale has the opportunity to Breeze Up with the last 200m of their work filmed and timed. Breeze-Ups are set to be conducted at Te Rapa Racecourse on 16 & 17 October, and the footage will be available online from 20 October. New Zealand Bloodstock's Ready to Run Sale will be held on 22 & 23 November with selling commencing at 11am each day. Click here to view the catalogue.

Gr1 Livamol Classic The Target For Sofia Rose

Thursday, 7th September 2017

Sofia Rosa's prospects of doubling her tally at the elite level have been boosted, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 5YO daughter of Westbury Stud shuttler Makfi hasn't won a race since she claimed the Gr1 Australian Oaks, however trainer Stephen Marsh was buoyed by her recent resuming effort in the Gr1 Tarzino Trophy at Hastings. In Sofia Rose's first appearance for five months, the mare struck trouble in the running before getting home well for seventh, less than four lengths off the winner Close Up. Marsh said Sofia Rosa had come through the race well and she would return to Hawke's Bay for the remaining two legs of the Triple Crown series. "She'll run in the Windsor Park and she is right on target for the Livamol Classic."

Sofia Rosa

Sofia Rosa (pic: Race Images NZ)

Marsh Stars Come Out to Play

Thursday, 17th August 2017

Three of trainer Stephen Marsh's stable stars will step up their spring preparations when they trial at Taupo on Friday, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Cambridge trainer intends to gallop Gr1 Thorndon Mile winner Thee Auld Floozie, Sofia Rosa, as well as Gr2 Brisbane Cup winner Chocante over 1100 metres. "My three are all coming up great and they will just be enjoying a trip away and a nice day out," Marsh said. "Thee Auld Floozie looks great and she's having a faultless preparation. She'll definitely run in the first two legs at Hawke's Bay and then we'll make a decision where we go." Marsh added: "Sofia Rosa will go for all three legs and we'll also be putting in a nomination for the Caulfield Cup." Meanwhile, Melbourne Cup hope Chocante will campaign exclusively in Australia. "He'll run in the Chelmsford Stakes on 2 September," Marsh said. "We know Winx will be there, but he couldn't win over a mile anyway and it's a nice race to kick off in." Chocante will then run in the Gr3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) a fortnight later before ending his Sydney sojourn with a start in the Gr1 Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on 30 September.

Sofia Rosa on Target for Tarzino

Tuesday, 8th August 2017

Group One-winning mare Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) is on track to make her seasonal reappearance in the Gr1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings on 2 September, reports NZ Racing Desk. "She's had a jump-out and she's coming up very well. We're all happy with her and she will be going straight to Hawke's Bay for the Tarzino Trophy," said Bruce Perry, who manages owner Lib Petagna's bloodstock portfolio. Sofia Rosa's performance in the opening leg of the Hawke's Bay Triple Crown will determine the rest of her year. "At this stage, the intention is to race on for another season, but that depends on how she goes and otherwise we could look at putting her in foal," Perry said. "There's a few options and if she runs well first-up we could head toward the last two legs at Hawke's Bay or even look at Melbourne." Last year's Australian Oaks winner was last seen finishing a close-up third (beaten 0.5 length) behind Mime in the Gr2 Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on April.

Sofia Rosa Future to be Determined

Tuesday, 9th May 2017

The connections of Gr1-winning mare Sofia Rosa will make a decision later in the year as to whether she continues racing or is retired to the breeding barn, reports NZ Racing Desk. Last year's Australian Oaks winner was last seen finishing a close-up third (beaten 0.5 length) behind Mime in the Gr2 Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa. "She's spelling now and will come back for the spring and we'll assess her then," Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh said. "She'll either be mated with Tivaci or she could race on and be served the following spring." The Lib Petagna-owned Sofia Rosa has hitherto won 5 of her 18 starts for nearly $1 million in prize money.

Mime Wins Gr2 Travis Stakes

Monday, 1st May 2017

Windsor Park Stud's 4-time Gr1-winning shuttler & former European Champion 2YO Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer-Starlight Dreams, by Black Tie Affair) added a Group success when 4YO mare Mime (Mastercraftsman-Maidjeu, by Montjeu) posted a narrow win in the $100,000 Gr2 Travis Stakes (2000m) for 3YO+ fillies & mares, defeating Endean Rose & Sofia Rosa. Mime, who was passed in for NZ$13,000 at the 2014 NZB Select Yearling Sale from the draft of Mapperley Stud, improved her record to 5 wins (including the Gr2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic & Gr3 Sunline Vase) and 8 placings (including the Gr1 Windsor Park Plate & Gr1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes) from 19 starts for NZ$304,725 earnings. Mime is now likely to travel to Queensland for the $500,000 Gr1 Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben on 20 May. "The Doomben Cup in three weeks' time will be up for discussion," said Michael Wallace, bloodstock and racing manager for owners the China Horse Club. "She hasn't done anything wrong and been there or thereabouts since we acquired her."

Karaka Trifecta in Gr2 Travis Stakes

Monday, 1st May 2017

The first three horses' home in Saturday's prestigious $100,000 Gr2 Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa were all graduates of New Zealand Bloodstock sales at Karaka. The Karaka gold rush was led by the Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman-trained Mime (Mastercraftsman) who edged out Endean Rose (Savabeel) and Sofia Rosa (Makfi) in a tight finish. "I didn't want to be on the fence, that wasn't the plan, but I ended up there and she was always travelling very well," rider Craig Grylls said. "I had to wait for a gap to open up and then she kicked and won really nicely." A daughter of the Montjeu mare Maidjeu and from the family of star racehorses Waikiki (Crested Wave) and Sacred Kingdom (Encosta De Lago), Mime was bred by the late Laurence Redshaw. Mime was offered as a yearling at the 2014 Select Sale but failed to meet her reserve of just $15,000. She was retained by Redshaw until his deteriorating health and passing forced her sale to the China Horse Club. Runner-up Endean Rose was also a sale-ring passing, falling short of her $3000 reserve as a weanling at the 2011 National Weanling, Broodmare & Mixed Bloodstock Sale, while Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa was purchased by Bruce Perry Bloodstock for $65,000 at the 2014 Select Sale and has now earned over $1 million in prize money.

Marsh Happy With Travis Duo

Friday, 28th April 2017

Stephen Marsh can't split stable-mates Sofia Rosa and Thee Auld Floozie leading into tomorrow’s Gr2 Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Gr1 winners will be chasing the stable’s tenth black-type win of the season. "The Travis looks a lovely race for my mares and I like them both," Marsh said. "They will both be suited by the step up in distance." Sofia Rosa (Makfi) has had two runs at 2000m this season, both at Gr1 level in Australia, and she has made good progress since her fifth placing in the Gr1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes at Te Rapa. "She has gone ahead since the Breeders' Stakes and is right where we want her now," Marsh said. Thee Auld Floozie (Mastercraftsman) is coming off a second in the Gr1 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes. Earlier this season, she broke through at the top level with victory in Gr1 Thorndon Mile. "She's had a big campaign and we have had to peak her a few times," Marsh said. "She has done an incredible job and kept fronting up."

AAP Racing Megaform

Blinkers to Focus Top Mare

Thursday, 6th April 2017

Stephen Marsh will be hoping the addition of blinkers will help Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) deliver a sharper performance in Saturday's Gr1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes at Te Rapa, reports NZ Racing Desk. Last season's Australian Oaks winner pleased Marsh when she worked in the headgear for the first time at Cambridge on Tuesday morning. "I thought she worked really well," he said. "She has been doing a few things wrong in her last few runs. She has been laying in and laying out and we are hoping that blinkers will sharpen her up and make her concentrate a bit more." Sofia Rosa should be close to peak fitness after four runs this preparation. She finished seventh first-up in the Gr1 NRM Sprint, then was third in the Gr1 Haunui WFA Classic, before crossing the Tasman for a fifth place finish behind Our Ivanhowe in the Gr1 Ranvet Stakes in Sydney. "We have given her a little freshen up since Sydney and she still has that base fitness," Marsh said.

Sydney Preferred Option For Top Mare

Wednesday, 15th March 2017

Quality Kiwi mare Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) will only run in tomorrow's Gr1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie by default, reports NZ Racing Desk. All going smoothly, she will instead be in Sydney for the $700,000 Gr1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday with Blake Shinn booked to handle the Stephen Marsh-trained 4YO. Last year's Australian Oaks winner will be having her third start this campaign following two encouraging performances from a spell. She made late ground for seventh in the Gr1 NRM Sprint, and also found the line strongly for third in the Gr1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic on 25 February. "It's planned to go early on Wednesday morning," said Wairarapa bloodstock agent Bruce Perry, who manages owner Lib Petagna's thoroughbred interests. "The Ranvet has always been a thought and then when Ellerslie was called off we put in an entry." Perry added: "It was always going to be a strong field, but if we're going to capture a Group One at weight-for-age it looks a reasonable opportunity especially if they get a bit of rain." Sofia Rosa's primary autumn target is the $4 million Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on 8 April.

sofia rosa

Sofia Rosa (image: Steve Hart)

Marsh Fancies Mare's Gr1 Prospects

Friday, 10th March 2017

Meanwhile, this week's inclement weather has buoyed the confidence of Stephen Marsh leading into tomorrow's Gr1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie, reports NZ Racing Desk. Marsh will saddle up last year's Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) who will be having her third start this campaign following two encouraging performances. She made late ground for seventh in the Gr1 NRM Sprint, and also found the line strongly for third in the Gr1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic. "Kawi will obviously be very hard to beat, but a wet track will really suit Sofia Rosa and give her every chance to show her best," Marsh said. "She will have to go close to winning if we are going to go to Sydney. Otherwise we'll be looking at Brisbane." Marsh added: "She's very well and I can't fault her condition. Getting up to 2000 metres is ideal for her."

Sofia Rosa

Sofia Rosa shares the same silks as Tivaci (pic: Steve Hart)

Kawi Wins Gr1 WFA Classic

Monday, 27th February 2017

At Otaki in New Zealand, Waikato Stud's Cox Plate winning stallion Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success, by Success Express) celebrated an elite success when 6YO gelding Kawi (Savabeel-Magic Time, by Volksraad) scored by 0.75 length for trainer Allan Sharrock in the NZ$200,000 Gr1 WFA Classic (1600m) for 3YO+, over fellow 6YO gelding Start Wondering (Eighth Wonder-Roseanbar, by Al Akbar) & 4YO mare Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago). The WFA Classic was Kawi's sixth victory at Gr1 level which saw him break through the million dollar barrier to advance his record to 14 wins (including the Gr1 Windsor Park Plate, Gr1 Makfi Challenge Stakes - twice, Gr1 Thorndon Mile, Gr1 Zabeel Classic, Gr3 Taranaki Cup & Listed Anniversary Handicap) and 8 placings (including the Gr1 Easter Handicap & Gr1 Herbie Dyke Stakes) from 31 starts for NZ$1,059,605 earnings. Trainer Allan Sharrock said the Gr1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) in two weeks time was the logical next target for New Zealand's weight-for age star. "To me he was very strong late and looking like he wants 2000 metres now," Sharrock told NZ Racing Desk. "He's class and they played the waiting game and when they got out into the open he was dominant in the last few strides," he said.

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Sofia Rosa Confirmed For Otaki

Wednesday, 22nd February 2017

Trainer Stephen Marsh says he is expecting a bold showing from smart mare Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) in Saturday's Gr1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic at Otaki, reports theinformant.co.nz. Last year's Australian Oaks winner gave Marsh cause for optimism when she resumed from a four-month break with an encouraging performance in the Gr1 NRM Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa eleven days ago. Despite beginning slowly and drifting back to the tail of the field, the 4YO ran home strongly in the straight to finish seventh (beaten 3.4 lengths) behind star sprinter Start Wondering. "I thought her last 100 metres in particular was very good," Marsh said. "She was going nowhere for most of the race, but then she really got going late. It showed us that we definitely have something to work with." Marsh added: "She's been doing really well since then...I just have to hope it didn't bottom her out for her second-up run. That's my only concern." Marsh nominated multiple Gr1 winner Kawi as the horse to beat. "I can't fault her, her work's been good. I'd be expecting a tidy run. Kawi might be hard to beat, but we'll give it our best shot," he said. Marsh has previously said Sofia Rosa's primary autumn target is the $4 million Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on 8 April.

Sofia Rosa In Top Order

Thursday, 12th January 2017

Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) is delighting her connections as she continues her build-up to the autumn, reports theinformant.co.nz. Crowned New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year last season, the Lib Petagna-owned mare failed to come up as a 4YO in the spring finishing unplaced in the Gr1 Memsie Stakes, Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes and Gr1 Turnbull Stakes in Melbourne. However, trainer Stephen Marsh says the daughter of Makfi has returned from a spell in much better order for the autumn. "She's coming to hand beautifully. She looks great and her condition is perfect. I can't fault her at all," Marsh said. "She looks like a completely different horse to what she was in the spring. She didn't really come up in this campaign, but I think it's fair to say that this time she seems to be back where we want her to be." He added: "Sydney in the autumn is the aim, and she'll resume in the NRM Sprint at Te Rapa on February 11." Marsh has previously confirmed Sofia Rosa's primary autumn target as the $4 million Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on 8 April.

Half-Brother To She Brings Joy At Karaka

Monday, 9th January 2017

An impressive winner of the Gr2 Royal Stakes (2000m) made She Brings Joy (Sebring) one of the stars of the recent Ellerslie Christmas carnival, and a half-brother to the exciting filly will go through the ring at Karaka 2017. Throughout this season, She Brings Joy's connections have made no secret of their high regard for the filly. But things had not gone her way early in her racing career and she was still a maiden after her first three starts. Nevertheless, trainer Stephen Marsh had enough faith in the filly's potential to follow the same path to the Royal Stakes that he took with former star fillies Lucia Valentina (Savabeel), who ran second in 2014, and Sofia Rosa (Makfi), who won last year. "I can't believe this horse was still a maiden," Marsh said. "She's been probably our most promising maiden for a long time." He added: "I thought she'd win first up and then second up but it's just those bad draws that have plagued us. Finally today she drew a barrier. She has got a nomination for the Oaks, so that's our real focus now." She Brings Joy carries the distinctive gold and blue colours of her owner-breeder Kevin Hickman. Hickman's Valachi Downs will offer the yearling half-brother at Karaka 2017, a colt by leading sire Savabeel who will go through the ring as Lot 212 in the Premier Sale.

2016

Sydney Autumn Target For Oaks Winner

Tuesday, 20th December 2016

Meanwhile, Chocante's stable-mate and last season's Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) will be aimed at the Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes in Sydney in the autumn. "She'll kick off in the NRM Sprint [Gr1] in February and the obvious goal for her would be the Queen Elizabeth Stakes," trainer Stephen Marsh told NZ Racing Desk. "As long as she comes up well that's the race to have a crack at. She never came up at all in the spring, but she looks fantastic now." The $4 million Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) is the showpiece event of The Championships in Sydney and will be run at Royal Randwick on 8 April.

Oaks Winner Back In Work

Friday, 16th December 2016

Gr1 winner Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) is back in work and being prepared for late summer and autumn campaign that will see her race on both sides of the Tasman, reports theinformant.co.nz. Crowned New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year last season courtesy of her wins in the Gr2 ARC Royal Stakes & Gr3 Lowland Stakes, and a second in the New Zealand Oaks, Sofia Rosa rounded out her 3YO year with a win in the Gr1 Australian Oaks in Sydney. However, the daughter of Makfi failed to come up as a 4YO in the spring finishing unplaced in the Gr1 Memsie Stakes, Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes and Gr1 Turnbull Stakes in Melbourne. "Sofia Rosa is back at Stephen Marsh's stable after a break," tweeted Bruce Perry, bloodstock manager for owner Lib Petagna. "Looks a different mare to when in Melbourne. Target Te Rapa/Sydney."

sofia rosa

Sofia Rosa (image: Steve Hart)

Makfi Japan Bound

Monday, 10th October 2016

Makfi (Dubawi-Dhelaal, by Green Desert) has been sold to Japanese interests and will travel to Japan when he fulfils his southern hemisphere commitments at Westbury Stud in New Zealand. The three-time Gr1 European winner will stand next year in Japan following a sale by Qatar Bloodstock to the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association (JBBA). Russell Warwick, General Manager at Westbury Stud, said: "It will be very sad to lose Makfi from the Southern Hemisphere breeding world as he has made an immediate impact with his progeny, firstly through his son Marky Mark, the Champion two-year-old of 2015, and more recently his daughter Sofia Rosa, who was a comprehensive winner of the ATC Oaks and was awarded the title of New Zealand Filly of the Year in 2016; while Hursley, Imposing Lass, and Raw Impulse have all won stakes races in Australia." Purchased by Qatar Bloodstock at the end of his racing career, Makfi initially stood at Tweenhills in England and shuttled annually to Westbury Stud in New Zealand.

Sofia Rosa At Crossroads

Wednesday, 28th September 2016

Last season's Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa has satisfied Stephen Marsh with both her recent runs in Melbourne, but the Cambridge trainer acknowledged she will need to go to another level in Sunday's Gr1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington, reports NZ Racing Desk. "She's at the crossroads – she needs to be really hitting the line well to warrant running in the Caulfield Cup and her work suggests she will go well," Marsh said. "I've been happy with her, but it will be tough and the horse that gets in best is Rising Romance." He added: "We have to give her weight under the set weights and penalty conditions of the race, but that's the way it works." Sofia Rosa has been disappointing in her two runs this preparation, finishing 10th and 9th in the Gr1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) respectively.

sofia rosa

Sofia Rosa (image: Steve Hart)

NZ Pattern Committee Downgrades Gr1 Race

Thursday, 22nd September 2016

Two races have been upgraded and two downgraded following the New Zealand Pattern Committee's (NZPC) annual review of the Group and Listed races run in New Zealand in the 2015-16 season. The Gr1 Easter Stakes at Ellerslie and the Gr2 Wellington Cup at Trentham have been downgraded, while the Rotorua Stakes has been upgraded to Group status and an Ellerslie three-year-old race promoted to Listed level. The Easter Stakes (1600m) had a rating of 109.2 for the 2015-16 season, with a pattern race rating of 107.9 and had failed to meet the Group I threshold in each of the four years under review. Consequently, it has been downgraded to Gr2 status. The Wellington Cup (3200m) has also been downgraded from Gr2 to Gr3, after failing to meet the Gr2 threshold in each of the last three seasons. The Rotorua Stakes, a weight-for-age fillies and mares race, has been promoted from Listed to Gr3 status and a 1300m three-year-old race run at Ellerslie in early December has been given Listed status. Volkstok'n'barrell and Sofia Rosa have been the most recent winners of the Ellerslie race, which has actually met the threshold rating for a Gr3 in the last two seasons. Surprisingly, the Gr1 Auckland Cup also failed to meet the tolerance threshold in each of the last four years and the 2016 renewal was particularly weak, with a rating of 103.5. However, the NZPC has endorsed the decision of the APC that the race should retain its Gr1 rating for another year.

Improvement Expected From Sofia Rosa

Friday, 9th September 2016

Trainer Stephen Marsh says he is expecting an improved performance from Sofia Rosa in tomorrow's Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington. The Australian Oaks winner resumed with a disappointing 10th place finish in the Gr1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield two weeks ago, but Marsh is anticipating a much better effort with the step up to a mile on the roomier Flemington track. "It was a bit of a race to forget [the Memsie]. She got a long way back and never really travelled. They went so hard in the race that it made it basically impossible for the backmarkers," Marsh told Melbourne's Radio Sport National. "Up to a mile at Flemington tomorrow I'm expecting to see a big improvement." He added: "She is really starting to turn in her coat and her work has been good. She's definitely gone ahead from that race." Sofia Rosa will be reunited with Kiwi hoop Danielle Johnson who has been aboard the 4YO in three of her 5 wins.

Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes Final Field

Thursday, 8th September 2016

The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the $500,000 Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) to be run at Flemington this Saturday. Former West Australian galloper and dual Gr1 winner Black Heart Bart is currently the dominant $2.25 favourite for the race, ahead of stable-mate Palentino at $6 and Victoria Derby winner Tarzino at $10. The final field is:

1. PRINCE OF PENZANCE (Darren Weir-John Allen) 59kg (12)

2. HAPPY TRAILS (Paul Beshara-Ben Melham) 59kg (11)

3. BLACK HEART BART (Darren Weir-Damien Oliver) 59kg (8)

4. OUR IVANHOWE (Lee & Anthony Freedman-Daniel Moor) 59kg (7)

5. JACQUINOT BAY (David & B Hayes & T Dabernig-N Hall) 59kg (9)

6. ENTIRELY PLATINUM (Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-D Dunn) 59kg (1)

7. HE OR SHE (David & B Hayes & T Dabernig-C Williams) 59kg (6)

8. ALPINE EAGLE (Tony McEvoy-Luke Currie) 59kg (10)

9. TARZINO (Mick Price-Craig Newitt) 58.5kg (4)

10. PALENTINO (Darren Weir-Mark Zahra) 58.5kg (5)

11. AYERS ROCK (Shawn Mathrick-Luke Nolen) 58.5kg (3)

12. RISING ROMANCE (David & B Hayes & T Dabernig-D Lane) 57kg (2)

13. SOFIA ROSA (Stephen Marsh-Danielle Johnson) 56.5kg (13)

Black Heart Bart Heads Makybe Entries

Tuesday, 6th September 2016

Dual Gr1 winner Black Heart Bart heads the nominations for Saturday's Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington. The Goodwood and last-start Memsie Stakes winner is the highest rated horse among the 14 entries for the $500,000 feature. The former West Australian galloper is also the dominant $2.20 favourite for the race, ahead of stable-mate Palentino at $6 and Rising Romance at $8. Victoria Derby winner Tarzino is the only other runner under double figure odds at $9., The nominations are:

1. ALPINE EAGLE (Tony McEvoy)

2. AYERS ROCK (Shawn Mathrick)

3. BLACK HEART BART (Darren Weir)

4. ENTIRELY PLATINUM (Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes)

5. HAPPY TRAILS (Paul Beshara)

6. HE OR SHE (David & B Hayes & T Dabernig)

7. OUR IVANHOWE (Lee & Anthony Freedman)

8. PALENTINO (Darren Weir)

9. PRINCE OF PENZANCE (Darren Weir)

10. RISING ROMANCE (David & B Hayes & T Dabernig)

11. SOFIA ROSA (Stephen Marsh)

12. TALLY (John O'Shea)

13. TARZINO (Mick Price)

14. TASHBEEH (David & B Hayes & T Dabernig)

Johnson Back On Top Mare

Tuesday, 6th September 2016

Danielle Johnson will be reunited with Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) in Australia on Saturday, reports NZ Racing Desk. Following the suspension of Michael Walker, Johnson has been booked to ride the 4YO Makfi mare in the Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington. Johnson won four races on the Stephen Marsh-trained Sofia Rosa last season, including the Gr2 Royal Stakes and the Gr3 Lowland Stakes. They were also first across the line in the Gr1 New Zealand Oaks, only to be relegated to second after an inquiry.

Marsh Has High Trans-Tasman Hopes

Friday, 26th August 2016

Stephen Marsh's Group One hopes will be spread on Saturday with top-flight contenders on both sides of the Tasman, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Cambridge trainer will be at Caulfield where Sofia Rosa opens her spring campaign in the Memsie Stakes (1400m) while he will be hoping No More Tears can draw first blood in the Hawke's Bay Triple Crown series in the Makfi Challenge Stakes. Sofia Rosa will be making her first appearance since winning the Australian Paks in April, and while 1400 metres will be well short of her best Marsh is confident of a bold showing from the mare. "She hasn't quite turned in the coat yet, but she is doing really well and looks great," he said. Marsh also can't fault the progress of No More Tears, who was runner-up when resuming in the Gr2 Foxbridge Plate. "She just missed the kick at Te Rapa and got a fair way back," he said. "Against the pattern of the day, she got home well and she's done great since."

Gr1 Memsie Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw

Thursday, 25th August 2016

The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the $500,000 Gr1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) to be run at Caulfield racecourse this Saturday, 27 August. Strong favourite for the race is the Darren Weir-trained Gr1 Goodwood winner Black Heart Bart at $2.70, ahead of stable-mates Mahuta ($5.50) and Palentino ($6.50). Alpine Eagle is rated a $13 chance, Australian Oaks and Australian Derby winners Sofia Rosa and Tavago are both at $15, as is Tarzino, while Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance is the second longest priced runner at $41. The field is:

  1. PRINCE OF PENZANCE (Darren Weir-Harry Coffey) 59kg (11)
  2. BLACK HEART BART (Darren Weir-Brad Rawiller) 59kg (5)
  3. LORD OF THE SKY (Robbie Laing-Damien Oliver) 59kg (1)
  4. CHARMED HARMONY (John Sadler-Thomas Sadler) 59kg (3)
  5. HE OR SHE (David & B Hayes & T Dabernig-D Dunn) 59kg (12)
  6. TASHBEEH (David & B Hayes & T Dabernig-Cory Parish) 59kg (14)
  7. ALPINE EAGLE (Tony McEvoy-Luke Currie) 59kg (6)
  8. MAHUTA (Darren Weir-John Allen) 58.5kg (2)
  9. TARZINO (Mick Price-Craig Newitt) 58.5kg (9)
  10. TAVAGO (Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young-Ben Melham) 58.5kg (8)
  11. PALENTINO (Darren Weir-Mark Zahra) 58.5kg (10)
  12. TALLY (John O'Shea-Michael Dee) 58.5kg (13)
  13. RISING ROMANCE (David & B Hayes & T Dabernig-D Lane) 57kg (4)
  14. SOFIA ROSA (Stephen Marsh-Michael Walker) 56.5kg (7)

Sofia Rosa Set For Memsie

Tuesday, 23rd August 2016

Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) could have Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance and Australian Derby winner Tavago as rivals when she resumes in Saturday's Gr1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Stephen Marsh-trained mare was one of seven Group One winners entered for the Memsie on Monday, with 18 top class gallopers nominated. Among the other entries were dual Gr1 winner Tarzino, Australian Derby winner Tavago, Alpine Eagle, Australian Oaks winner Rising Romance, and Gr1 Goodwood winner Black Heart Bart. Melbourne-based Kiwi jockey Michael Walker will ride Sofia Rosa for Wellington owner Lib Petagna. Click here to view the nominations for the Memsie Stakes.

Kiwi Oaks Winners Clash

Friday, 19th August 2016

Racing fans will get an early look at how Oaks winners Sofia Rosa and Provocative are shaping up for the spring at Flemington today, reports NZ Racing Desk. The two Kiwi mares, who are both prominent in Caulfield Cup markets, are scheduled to contest a jump-out over 800 metres on the inside grass track. The Stephen Marsh-trained Sofia Rosa has not started since winning the Australian Oaks at Randwick in April, while the Tony Pike prepared Provocative announced herself as a serious staying talent with a dominant win in the Queensland Oaks in late May. Sofia Rosa is set to kick off her campaign in Saturday week's Gr1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield, while Provocative is likely to resume over a mile at Moonee Valley later this month.

Jockeys Confirmed For Memsie Pair

Tuesday, 16th August 2016

Michael Walker and Ben Melham will be the respective riders of Sofia Rosa and Tavago when the classic winners resume in Saturday week's Gr1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield, reports NZ Racing Desk. Sofia Rosa, who hasn't raced since winning the Australian Oaks in April, has pleased trainer Stephen Marsh during the early stages of her Caulfield Cup preparation. On a similar path is the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-prepared Tavago, who remained in Australia after landing the Australian Derby in April. He has recently undergone six weeks of pre-training with Leon and Troy Corstens. Tavago was given an easy time when second in a jump-out at Cranbourne on Monday morning.

Memsie First-Up For Sofia

Tuesday, 26th July 2016

Trainer Stephen Marsh has mapped out a four-race Melbourne campaign for Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa that will see her race exclusively in Gr1 company in the spring, reports NZ Racing Desk. "She'll fly to Melbourne where she'll stay at Russell Cameron's at Flemington and she'll run fresh-up in the Memsie Stakes," Marsh said. "Obviously there's a lot of water to go under the bridge but all going well, she'll then go to the Makybe Diva Stakes, Turnbull Stakes and the Caulfield Cup." Marsh said Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) had spelled exceptionally well and he was confident of a bold first-up showing from the rising 4YO. "Without doubt she's strengthened up, she's still got a little bit of furnishing to do, but she looks a lot better than she did in the autumn," he said. "I think she's going to run a boomer in the Memsie over 1400m. She's not dour at all and has a good turn of foot."

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Sofia Rosa (image: Steve Hart)

Triple Crown Target For Top Filly

Tuesday, 19th July 2016

Smart Kiwi filly Capella (Rip Van Winkle-Limerick, by Grosvenor) will be aimed at the Hawke's Bay carnival in the spring, reports NZ Racing Desk. Trainer Danica Guy says she intends to run the rising 4YO in all three legs of the Triple Crown - the Gr1 Makfi Challenge Stakes on 27 August, the Gr1 Windsor Park Plate on 17 September, and the Gr1 Livamol Classic on 1 October. "She's coming along nicely and she will have her first proper run along on Tuesday morning," Guy said. "We'll look at the trials at Te Teko on August 2 and then carry on to Hastings, hopefully she will have enough points to run in all three and her best opportunity will be on the last day over 2000 metres." Despite an interrupted autumn preparation, Capella stamped herself as one of the most exciting fillies in New Zealand when winning the Gr2 Eight Carat Classic, finishing third in the Gr2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic, and fourth in the New Zealand Derby. She then crossed the Tasman and performed creditably with close-up finishes in the Gr1 Vinery Stud Stakes (5th beaten 1.8 lengths) and the Gr1 Australian Oaks (7th beaten 2.2 lengths). Guy said Capella had made a good recovery from her traumatic flight home from Australia. Along with fellow New Zealand fillies Sofia Rosa and Valley Girl, Capella was rushed to an equine clinic after the trio were given an overdose of an insect drench treatment before they were scheduled to board their flight. "She's fine now and she's really furnished. She's a differently type of filly – she's filled out and looks really well," Guy said.

Gr1 Filly Back Bigger & Stronger From Spell

Thursday, 23rd June 2016

Top-class performer Valley Girl (Mastercraftsman-Leigh Valley, by Bianconi) is showing no ill-effects from a traumatic post-race ordeal at the end of her autumn campaign in Sydney, reports NZ Racing Desk. Following a bold second in the Gr1 Vinery Stud at Rosehill and a creditable sixth in the Gr1 Australian Oaks at Randwick, Valley Girl, along with fellow New Zealand fillies Sofia Rosa and Capella, was rushed to an equine clinic after the trio were given an overdose of an insect drench treatment before they were scheduled to fly home. All three fillies suffered burns and exhibited signs of colic. "She's back in the stable now after a break and she looks great – she's bigger and stronger," co-trainer Donna Logan said of the Gr1 Herbie Dyke Stakes winner. Logan, who trains Valley Girl in partnership with Chris Gibbs, will shortly sit down and map out a spring campaign for the daughter of Mastercraftsman. "Obviously there's Melbourne to think of and the Hawke's Bay carnival – Hasselhoof could go down there," Logan said. "Chris is away at the moment, but when he's back we will start planning and locking programmes in."

Sofia Rosa Back In Work

Thursday, 16th June 2016

Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) has returned to the stable of trainer Stephen Marsh as she commences her build-up towards the spring, reports theinformant.co.nz. Sofia Rosa, who races in the same distinctive lime green silks as star Kiwi mare Lucia Valentina on behalf of owner Lib Petagna, is expected to head straight to Melbourne to kick off her spring campaign. "She's been back in work for about a week now," Marsh's foreman Rhys Mildon said. "She's come back looking really well. We're very happy with her. I believe the plan is for her to go straight to Australia to begin her campaign." Her trainer has previously stated that the Gr1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) would be a suitable spring target. "We always thought that she was a Caulfield Cup type of horse," Marsh said after Sofia Rosa's Australian Oaks victory. "That's the path we took with Lucia Valentina [third in the 2014 Caulfield Cup], and that's the same sort of path we'll take with this horse."

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Sofia Rosa (image: Steve Hart)

Capella Progressing Well

Thursday, 19th May 2016

Smart Kiwi filly Capella (Rip Van Winkle-Limerick, by Grosvenor) is making good progress following the horrific ending to her Sydney autumn campaign, reports NZ Racing Desk. Along with fellow New Zealand fillies Sofia Rosa and Valley Girl, Capella was rushed to an equine clinic after the trio were given an overdose of an insect drench treatment before they were scheduled to fly home. "She's coming right now and she's put on a lot of weight," trainer Danica Guy said. "She'll have another two or three weeks off yet, but we're making no plans until she's back and we see how she comes up." Despite an interrupted preparation, Capella stamped herself as one of the most exciting fillies in New Zealand last autumn when winning the Gr2 Eight Carat Classic, finishing third in the Gr2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic, and fourth in the New Zealand Derby. She then crossed the Tasman and performed creditably with close-up finishes in the Gr1 Vinery Stud Stakes (5th beaten 1.8 lengths) and the Gr1 Australian Oaks (7th beaten 2.2 lengths).

Serious Satire To Wait For Spring

Tuesday, 10th May 2016

The connections of Serious Satire have gone cold on a winter trip to Brisbane for the filly, reports NZ Racing Desk. Trainer Stephen Marsh had given serious thought to the Queensland carnival for the David Paykel-bred and owned three-year-old, but will now wait for the spring to test her in Australia. "I don't think we'll be going and she'll have another race here in a Rating 75 mile at Te Rapa on the 21st before we put her out for another little spell," Marsh said. "We'll bring her back after that and ideally we will look at the Melbourne spring carnival with her and Sofia Rosa." Serious Satire has won 2 of 5 starts to date, highlighted by her victory in the Gr3 Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings in October. By Vinery shuttler More Than Ready, Serious Satire is out of the Gr2 winning Zabeel mare Zarzuela (Zabeel) and hails from the family of Gr1 winners Star Satire, Ray's Hope, Silver Nymph, Silver Wraith, and Gr2 winner Satin Shoes.

Makfi Heads Westbury Stud Roster

Thursday, 5th May 2016

Dubawi's son Makfi will once again head the stallion roster at Westbury Stud and has had his fee increased to $25,000 + GST after an excellent year with his three-year-olds in the southern hemisphere. Sire of last season's champion New Zealand's 2YO Marky Mark, Makfi produced his second individual Gr1 winner from his first crop when high class filly Sofia Rosa scored a brave win in the Australian Oaks in the autumn. Sofia Rosa also claimed this year's NZB Filly of the Year title. Makfi, who shuttles from the Aga Khan's Haras de Bonneval in France, is the only second-season sire in Australasia to have sired two individual Gr1 winners from his first crop (southern hemisphere figures). One of the big success stories at the yearling sales this year was Dalakhani's son Reliable Man who made an excellent impact with his first crop yearlings, and enters his fourth season at stud in 2016 having averaged no less than 140 mares across his first three seasons at stud. Reliable Man's yearlings sold up to $360,000 at Karaka in January and a large number of his yearlings were purchased by Australian based trainers and agents, underlining the high regard he is held across the Tasman. The French Derby and Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner is available at $15,000 + GST. Swiss Ace is another young stallion going from strength to strength. From just over 100 runners to date, the Gr1 Oakleigh Plate winner has produced 10 individual black-type performers including Passing Shot, Secret Spirit, Mywayorthehighway, He's An Ace, Huka Eagle, and the highly promising First Serve, who belied her inexperience when finishing runner-up to star colt Xtravagant in the Gr3 Cambridge Breeders Stakes. Swiss Ace will have a small rise in fee to $13,500 + GST. High Chaparral's Gr1-winning son Redwood saw his yearlings sell upward of $200,000 in 2015 and the good looking stallion will remain at his 2015 fee of $10,000 + GST. Fastnet Rock entire El Roca was retired to stud in 2015 and covered a quality book of 110 mares in his inaugural year. El Roca defeated the likes of Dissident, Boban, Red Tracer, Sacred Falls, and Criterion during his  career and went down by a nose to Dissident in the Gr1 Randwick Guineas as a 3YO. El Roca will remain at his introductory fee of $7,500 + GST. Rounding out Westbury's high quality roster are Postponed, sire of recent Gr1 placegetter Trojan Warrior, and Red Giant who will both be available at $5,000 + GST. Westbury's roster is:

  • Makfi - $25,000 + GST
  • Reliable Man - $15,000 + GST
  • Swiss Ace - $13,500 + GST
  • Redwood - $10,000 + GST
  • El Roca - $7,500 + GST
  • Postponed - $5,000 + GST
  • Red Giant - $5,000 + GST

Marsh In No Rush With Sofia Rosa

Thursday, 14th April 2016

Stephen Marsh will give Australian Oaks winner Sofia Rosa a few extra days to get over her traumatic post-race ordeal, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Cambridge trainer is at a loss to understand how a Sydney vet could have got the dosage of a pre-flight insect spray so wrong that his filly and fellow Kiwis Valley Girl and Capella had to be taken straight to a veterinary clinic. "The fillies got terribly agitated and it basically burned them so we had to hose them off – it was shocking," he said. Under the circumstances, Sofia Rosa would remain in Sydney until Monday before she returned home. "After what she's gone through I won't put her through the stress of travel straight away and she will fly home on Monday, all going well."

Sofia Rosa Wins Gr1 Australian Oaks

Monday, 11th April 2016

At Royal Randwick in Sydney, Westbury Stud shuttle stallion Makfi (Dubawi-Dhelaal, by Green Desert) celebrated an elite success when 3YO New Zealand-bred filly Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) scored by 0.5-length for trainer Stephen Marsh in the $1 million Gr1 Australian Oaks (2400m) for 3YO fillies, over fellow fillies Ambience (Street Cry-Miss Right Note, by Daylami) & Believe (Fastnet Rock-Optimist, by Red Ransom). This was a well deserved maiden Gr1 win for Sofia Rosa who lost last month's New Zealand Oaks on protest after being first across the line. Saturday's classic victory boosted her record to 5 wins (including the Gr2 ARC Royal Stakes & Gr3 Hawke's Bay Lowland Stakes) and 2 placings (including the Gr1 New Zealand Oaks) from 10 starts for $893,166 earnings. Sofia Rosa, who carried the same distinctive lime green silks as Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Lucia Valentina on behalf of owner Lib Petagna, was a NZ$65,000 purchase by Bruce Perry Bloodstock at the 2014 NZB Select Yearling Sale from the draft of Westbury Stud. "She was very strong to the line, I'm so proud of her," trainer Stephen Marsh told Sky Racing. "She's very hard work. As Hugh [jockey Hugh Bowman] said she's probably one of the most difficult horses he has ridden. But when they have that much ability you don't mind persevering with them." Marsh confirmed that Sofia Rosa would be sent for a break to prepare for races such as the Caulfield Cup in the spring. "We will spell her now and then go to Melbourne in the spring," he said. "We always thought that she was a Caulfield Cup type of horse. That's the path we took with Lucia Valentina [third in the 2014 Caulfield Cup], and that's the same sort of path we'll take with this horse."

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Sofia Rosa (image: Steve Hart)

Wet Won't Hamper Kiwi Filly

Thursday, 7th April 2016

The inclement Sydney weather hasn't put a dampener on Stephen Marsh's dream of a Group One win at Randwick on Saturday, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Cambridge trainer can't fault the condition of his Australian Oaks contender Sofia Rosa, whose chances won't be compromised by the rain-affected going. "There's been a fair bit of rain here so it's going to be an off track and she won't mind that at all," Marsh said. The winner of the Gr2 Royal Stakes and the Gr3 Lowland Stakes, Sofia Rosa went into the Gr1 New Zealand Oaks as an even money favourite and crossed the line first. A subsequent stewards inquiry relegated her to second behind Fanatic and while understandably disappointed, Marsh didn't have any complaints. "It happened close to the line, but our filly definitely shifted out," he said. However, Sofia Rosa's performance was enough to crown her the NZB Filly of the Year and confirm her passage across the Tasman. "She travelled over here really well and got through a nice bit of work on Tuesday morning," Marsh said. "She's done very well and stretched her legs at three quarter pace from the 1500 and quickened the last bit." He added: "She tightened up with the trip over here so she doesn't need to do a lot. I'm very happy with her and having Hugh Bowman booked for the ride is another big plus." Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago), who will jump from barrier 12 on Saturday, is on the fourth line of betting at $9.50.

Australian Oaks Final Field & Barrier Draw

Wednesday, 6th April 2016

The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the $1 million Gr1 Australian Oaks (2400m) to be run at Royal Randwick on Saturday. Top Victorian filly Jameka, who will be seeking a classic double after landing the VRC Oaks in the spring, is the current $3.50 favourite for the 3YO fillies feature ahead of Peter & Paul Snowden's highly progressive filly Happy Hannah at $4.60. Other horses under double figure odds are talented Kiwi fillies Capella ($7), Valley Girl ($8), and Sofia Rosa ($9). The final field is:

1. JAMEKA (Ciaron Maher-Damien Oliver) 56kg (16)

2. SINGLE GAZE (Nick Olive-Kathy O'Hara) 56kg (9)

3. HONESTA (John Thompson-Craig Williams) 56kg (8)

4. SACRED EYE (David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-Nicholas Hall) 56kg (1)

5. AMBIENCE (John O'Shea-James McDonald) 56kg (3)

6. VALLEY GIRL (Donna Logan & Chris Gibbs-Brett Prebble) 56kg (10)

7. SOFIA ROSA (Stephen Marsh-Hugh Bowman) 56kg (12)

8. DIAMOND MADE (Bruce Cross-Glyn Schofield) 56kg (5)

9. ALASKAN ROSE (Michael Moroney-Dwayne Dunn) 56kg (6)

10. CAPELLA (Danica Guy-Opie Bosson) 56kg (15)

11. CHABAUD (Robert Smerdon-Tommy Berry) 56kg (2)

12. SELF ESTEEM (Peter & Paul Snowden-Mark Zahra) 56kg (13)

13. HAPPY HANNAH (Peter & Paul Snowden-Blake Shinn) 56kg (7)

14. BELIEVE (Anthony Cummings-Kerrin McEvoy) 56kg (11)

15e. ZASORCERESS (Jason Warren-Damian Lane) 56kg (4)

16e. AURORA'S STAR (Anthony Cummings) 56kg (14)

Sofia Rosa Oaks Bound

Tuesday, 22nd March 2016

Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) is almost certain to complete a strong New Zealand contingent set to tackle next month's Gr1 Australian Oaks in Sydney, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs-prepared Valley Girl and Danica Guy's Capella are definite contenders for the fillies Classic at Royal Randwick on 9 April with Stephen Marsh keen for his filly to join them. "Sofia Rosa's bright and happy and at this stage she will be going over," Marsh said. Sofia Rosa was first across the line in Saturday's Gr1 New Zealand Oaks, but lost the race on protest after the stewards upheld an objection from the connections of the runner-up Fanatic. Despite being disappointed with the overall result, Marsh was accepting of the decision. "It happened close to the line, but our filly definitely shifted out," he said. However, there was some consolation for Sofia Rosa who picked up the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year title. "That's a big thrill and it salvaged something from the remnants," Marsh said.

Fanatic Wins Gr1 New Zealand Oaks

Monday, 21st March 2016

At Trentham in New Zealand, Rich Hill Stud's Melbourne Cup winning stallion Shocking (Street Cry-Maria di Castiglia, by Danehill) celebrated his first Gr1 winner as a sire when 3YO filly Fanatic (Shocking-Komplete Klass, by Groom Dancer) scored a surprise nose win at odds of 60-1 for trainers Graeme Sanders & Debbie Sweeney in the NZ$300,000 Gr1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) for 3YO fillies, over fellow fillies Sofia Rosa (Makfi-Bislieri, by Encosta de Lago) & Strada Cavallo (Alamosa-Abenroad, by Danroad). Fanatic belied her long odds and finished strongly to be beaten by the barest of margins with a subsequent protest reversing the result at the expense of the red-hot favourite Sofia Rosa. "She deserved it and if she hadn't got the decision I would have been pretty upset," co-trainer Graeme Sanders told NZ Racing Desk. "I had a lot of confidence in the filly and I honestly thought she could win, but I was so nervous and I don't normally get like that. Maybe it was because I hadn't won an Oaks before and that was the only one left - I've won all he big races now." The first Group One winner for Rich Hill Stud stallion Shocking, Fanatic is raced by her breeder Sean Kiernan and was born and raised at Curraghmore, the Waikato nursery of his brother-in-law Gordon Cunningham. Fanatic took her record to 2 wins and 2 placings from 12 starts for NZ$185,465 earnings.