The last five racing seasons have seen New Zealand mares produce in excess of 270 stakes winners and 39 Gr1 winners in Australia alone. These include an array of Gr1-winning sires the ilk of Dundeel (ex Stareel), Mongolian Kahn (ex Centafit), Sacred Falls (ex Iguazu's Girl), Tarzino (ex Zarzino), Tivaci (ex Breccia) and Turn Me Loose (ex Indomitable). From a racetrack perspective, Champion mare Winx is a daughter of NZ mare Vegas Showgirl, while Gr1 winners Terravista and Tiger Tees (both ex Parfore) and triple Gr1 winner Gingernuts (ex Double Elle) exemplify the distaff depth of the New Zealand market. This year's Karaka Sale is represented by a swathe of female Gr1 gold including:
The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted of the Gr1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) to be run at Royal Randwick racecourse this Saturday, 30 September. The Epsom, along with the Doncaster Mile, is regarded as the premier mile handicap on the Australasian racing calendar. The time-honoured feature boasts an honour roll comprising some of the greatest names of the Australian turf, including Nightmarch (1929), Chatham (1932/33), Shannon (1945), Noholme (1959), Gunsynd (1971), Super Impose (1990/91), and of course the mighty Winx (2015). This year a field of 14 high quality gallopers will contest the $1 million feature, headed by Happy Clapper who will carry top weight of 57kg. Among Happy Clapper's rivals are Group One winners Egg Tart, Foxplay, I Am A Star, Sound Proposition, He's Our Rokkii, and Group One-placed gallopers McCreery, Zanbagh and Comin' Through. Click below to view the full Epsom Handicap field.
At Newcastle in the Hunter region of NSW, former Widden Stud stallion Southern Image (Halo's Image-Pleasant Dixie, by Dixieland Band) added a Group success when 8YO bay gelding Got Unders (Southern Image-Frantoio, by Danehill) scored an upset win at odds of 30-1 in the $150,000 Gr3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) for 3YO+, defeating Sound Proposition & Spectroscope. This was the first stakes victory for Got Unders who improved his record to 7 wins and 24 placings from 52 starts for $415,690 in earnings.
Newcastle trainer Kris Lees isn't too perturbed by the 59kg former New Zealand galloper Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) will carry on his adopted home track in tomorrow's Gr3 Cameron Handicap (1500m), reports NZ Racing Desk. "He's got plenty of weight, but he is a capable horse fresh," Lees said. "It's only a small field and I think he's in for a nice preparation." A winner of the 2016 Gr1 Easter Stakes (before it was downgraded to Gr2 status) when trained by Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott, Sound Proposition has won both his starts since being transferred to Lees. Sound Proposition's primary spring target is the $1 million Gr1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on 1st October.
Trainer Kris Lees has earmarked the Gr1 Epsom Handicap as a suitable spring target for former Kiwi galloper Sound Proposition. Formerly trained out of the Matamata stable of Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott, Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) has now won two of his three starts since relocating to Australia after shouldering 61.5kg (60kg after jockey Rachel King's allowance) to win the ATC Heritage Volunteers Handicap (1800m) at Randwick on Saturday. Already proven at the top level when landing the 2016 Gr1 Easter Stakes before it was downgraded to Gr2 status, Sound Proposition will now be aimed at the $1 million Gr1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on 1st October. "I'll give him a bit of a freshen-up and get him ready for the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle and then the Epsom," Lees told Sky Racing. "I think he could be a lightweight chance in an Epsom."
Gr1-winning Kiwi galloper Sound Proposition will continue his racing career under the care of Newcastle-based trainer Kris Lees, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Savabeel 5YO made his final appearance for Matamata stable of Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott when he was unplaced in his Australian debut in the Gr1 Doomben Cup, which coincidentally was won by the Lees trained Sense of Occasion. "We've been told that's what is happening and we can't blame the owners for that," O'Sullivan said. "It's just one of those things, part of the job, and with a good horse there are more opportunities for them overseas." He added: "He likes the good tracks and there isn't much around at home for him. I don't think he's a Hawke's Bay horse, he's struggled going left-handed in the past." Sound Proposition is a winner of four of his 17 starts, including the 2016 Gr1 Easter Stakes before it was downgraded to Gr2 status.
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.
Group One winner Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) is on the trail of a Queensland winter carnival feature, reports NZ Racing Desk. "The owners are keen to have a crack at the Doomben Cup first-up," said Lance O'Sullivan, who trains in partnership with Andrew Scott. "It's probably the toughest one, but if for any reason he didn't measure up then he can always go back to handicaps." The Gr1 Doomben Cup (200m) will be run under weight-for-age conditions at Doomben on 20 May. Sound Proposition finished fifth last time out in the Gr2 Easter Stakes, a race he won 12 months ago 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."
Injury-plagued but talented galloper J'Walke will make his long awaited return to racing at Hawera tomorrow, reports NZ Racing Desk. The lightly raced 5YO has tested the patience and the wallet of his part-owner and trainer Wayne Jones, who all but gave up on the Darci Brahma gelding last spring. "He's had major back issues and I never picked up on it early on and ran him when I shouldn't have," he said. "I put my hands up and take full responsibility for his run of bad form." He added: "I came close to having him put down last November to put him out of his misery, he was so sad." However, regular treatment from chiropractors and a massage specialist have turned J'Walke around. "It's taken a long time to get him back to where he is now," Jones said. "He's fairly forward and as long as he is running on we will all be happy." J'Walke won his second start as a three-year-old and while he was subsequently unplaced in the Hallmark Stud Mile on Karaka Million night, he was less than five and a half lengths off the subsequent Group One winner Sound Proposition. He was then beaten a little over seven and a half lengths by the outstanding Mongolian Khan in the Gr2 Avondale Guineas. "He showed all the potential in the world before it all went wrong, hopefully we can see him back," Jones said.
Waikato Stud have made another clean sweep of the stallion titles, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Matamata farm has dominated the awards in recent times and it was more of the same in a highly satisfying 2015-2016. Savabeel was the star of the show by claiming the Grosvenor Award for the New Zealand sires' premiership and the Dewar Award (champion NZ-based sire by Australasian progeny earnings) and the Centaine Award (champion NZ-based sire by global progeny earnings). "Savabeel has done a wonderful job world-wide," stud principal Mark Chittick said. "At home, he's been outstanding with the likes of Group One winners Kawi and Sound Proposition and in Australia his daughter Lucia Valentina has always been at the top level." He added: "He's extremely versatile and, once again, the way his yearlings sold at Karaka showed that the Australians love him." Barn-mate Pins also enjoyed another strong season with his chief flag-bearer the international Group One winner Aerovelocity. "Pins just keeps leaving stakes winners and he always seem to have a top class horse or two around, he's been terrific," Chittick said. Meanwhile, the farm is looking forward to spring appearances of the first racing crop of young sires Ocean Park and Rock 'N' Pop. "They will be hitting the tracks and that's going to be really exciting for us – the chat around them has been good from those with them," Chittick said.
Group One winner Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) is unlikely to return to the track until the summer, reports NZ Racing Desk. "We've had a good meeting with the owners and they are in no hurry and the horse will enjoy a good long break," said Andrew Scott, who trains the Savabeel gelding with Lance O'Sullivan. "His first goal will probably be the Tauranga Stakes in November and then we'll head toward the Group One weight-for-age Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day." Scott added: "His form is better going right-handed and we're not in any hurry – he's a firm track horse." The lightly-raced Sound Proposition hasn't raced since winning the Gr1 Easter Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie in April and his trainers liked what they saw when they recently inspected the four-year-old. "We had a look at him last week and he has grown and developed," Scott said. Sound Proposition was successful in the Easter at just his 11th start and he is expected to be at his peak next season. "He was incredibly immature at three and he's had a quiet four-year-old year – we've always thought he would be best at five as he's a lightly-framed, athletic type," Scott said.
Smart Kiwi galloper Snapshot has gone for a break after boosting his strike rate this preparation to six wins from nine appearances, reports NZ Racing Desk. Patiently handled by trainer Graham Richardson, the 5YO was turned out after finishing 13th (albeit beaten less than 4 lengths) behind Sound Proposition in the Gr1 Easter Stakes at Ellerslie last month. "Things didn't go to plan, but it was still a good run under the circumstances," Richardson said. Snapshot was bred by Henrietta Duchess of Bedford who races the gelding with a syndicate that includes retired All Black captain Richie McCaw. By Stravinsky, Snapshot is a son of former multiple Gr1-winning Kiwi mare Snap, who also finished third in the 1996 Telegraph Handicap.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand, Waikato Stud's Cox Plate winning stallion Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success, by Success Express) celebrated an elite success when 4YO gelding Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) scored by a head for trainers Lance O'Sullivan & Andrew Scott in the NZ$200,000 Gr1 Easter Stakes (1600m) for 3YO+, over fellow 4YO gelding Trojan Warrior (Postponed-Trojan Lass, by Helissio) & 5YO mare Rasa Lila (Darci Brahma-Dance My Dance, by Sadler's Wells). This was Sound Proposition's first victory at stakes level and boosted his record to 4 wins and 3 placings from 11 starts for NZ$179,900 earnings. History repeated itself for Wexford Stables when Sound Proposition came off the ballot to win the Gr.1 Manco Easter Stakes at Ellerslie on Saturday, reports NZ Racing Desk. The win came 31 years after Eastern Joy, trained by Dave and Paul O'Sullivan and ridden by Lance O'Sullivan, also got a late call-up into the Easter field and came up trumps. "Eastern Joy got in at 7.20am on race morning – Dad (Dave) reminded me off that this morning," said Lance O'Sullivan, who trains Sound Proposition in partnership with Andrew Scott. "It was a great win and I'm thrilled for all the staff at home. Andrew and all the team have done a great job with this horse." He added: "It's a very satisfying win. It has been a tough 12 months but we've all come through it and out the other side and as far as Wexford Stables goes it's onwards and upwards."
Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott have been fined $50,000 and ordered to pay $10,500 in costs after pleading guilty to presenting three horses to race with elevated levels of cobalt in their system, reports NZ Racing Desk. Judicial Control Authority hearing chairman Professor Geoff Hall said they had not been influenced by the Peter Moody case in Australia where the leading Caulfield trainer has been banned for 12 months, with half of his penalty suspended. "We have had to decide this case on the facts presented to us. Significantly, the Racing Integrity Unit has not sought the imposition of a penalty of disqualification or suspension." He added: "We believe the mere fact that this case has resulted in admitted breaches, and what we consider to be a significant financial penalty, will be a very salutary lesson to the respondents." The national cobalt threshold is 200 micrograms per litre of urine and the three runners from the O'Sullivan and Scott stable to return excessive levels were Quintastics (640), Sound Proposition (541) and Suffire (309). Quintastics was tested after winning at Matamata just over 12 months ago, Sound Proposition after he ran third in last year's Gr.1 New Zealand Derby and Suffire following her win at Tauranga in February, 2015. They have all been disqualified from their respective placings.
Gr1 performer Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) is on target for an overdue return to racing, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 4YO Savabeel gelding came a long way in a short time in his first preparation that culminated in a last-start third behind subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Mongolian Khan and Volkstok'n'barrell in the Gr1 New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie in February. He furthered his preparation with an exhibition gallop at Matamata on Wednesday and ended his work with a final 600 metres in 34.12 seconds. "He's had immaturity issues so we gave him a long break and he'll run at Ellerslie on Boxing Day," co-trainer Andrew Scott said. "It will be exciting to see him back to the races." Sound Proposition has won two of his six starts for NZ$95,000 prize money.
Gr1 performer Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) will return to light duties at Wexford Stables next month, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 4YO Savabeel gelding came a long way in a short time in his first preparation that culminated in a last-start third behind star 3YOs Mongolian Khan and Volkstok'n'barrell in the Gr1 New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie in February. "He was a horse that was plagued by immaturity and soundness issues so we gave him a really good break and we'll be looking to race him around Christmas with a view to the autumn," co-trainer Lance O'Sullivan said. Sullivan has previously mentioned the Gr1 Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie in March as a long-term target for Sound Proposition.
Patience is the key to Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) realising his full potential and his trainers are prepared to give the 3YO all the time he needs, reports NZ Racing Desk. The talented son of Savabeel came a long way in a short time in his first preparation that resulted in a third placing behind the star 3YOs Mongolian Khan and Volkstok'n'barrell in the Gr1 New Zealand Derby. "He's still quite an immature horse so we're giving him a nice break," said Lance O'Sullivan, who prepares Sound Proposition at Matamata with Andrew Scott. "He's a very lightly-framed type and if we look after him and be patient he's going to be a really good racehorse." O'Sullivan added: "We got him back seven weeks after the Derby and had him in the stable for a week before we decided it wasn't the right thing for him and we put him back out." The Hawke's Bay carnival has been ruled out for Sound Proposition with Wexford Stables taking a much longer-term approach with the gelding. "We plan to have him back and ready around Christmas time and target a race like the Auckland Cup," O'Sullivan said.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand, dual Gr1-winning former Coolmore shuttler Holy Roman Emperor (Danehill-L'On Vite, by Secretariat) celebrated a Classic success when 3YO colt Mongolian Khan (Holy Roman Emperor-Centafit, by Centaine) scored by 1-length for trainers Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman in the NZ$750,000 Gr1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) for 3YOs, over 3YO geldings Volkstok'n'Barrell (Tavistock-Volkster, by Volksraad) & Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve). This was the maiden Gr1 triumph for Mongolian Khan who took his record to 6 wins (including the Gr2 Avondale Guineas, Gr2 Waikato Guineas & Listed Champion Stakes Prelude) from 7 starts for NZ$625,500 earnings. Mongolian Khan was a $220,000 purchase by the Mongolian Rider Horse Group at the 2013 NZB Ready To Run Sale from the draft of Regal Farm.
Meanwhile, promising 3YO Sound Proposition (Savabeel-Ebony Babe, by Ebony Grosve) will put his classic credentials to the test in the Gr2 Avondale Guineas at Ellerslie on 14 February, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 2100m feature will represent the stiffest challenge yet for the son of Savabeel who has won 2 of his 4 career outings. "He's on a path to the Guineas and provided he runs well he'll go on to the Derby," said Andrew Scott, who prepares the Savabeel gelding with Lance O'Sullivan. "His next run will be the yard-stick – it's going to be a miniature Derby field." Sound Proposition has been held in high regard by Wexford Stables for some time and his last two performances have justified their opinion. He broke his maiden at Tauranga and at Ellerslie on Karaka Million night he again beat the older horses over a mile with smart mare Arrow In The Sand among the beaten brigade. "That gave us a lot of encouragement going forward," Scott said. "He went a bit wide on the turn and came strongly down the outside." He added, "Even in the early stages at barrier trials he showed a good turn of foot and time was always going to be his friend. The Derby nominations come along quite early and it's always in the back of your mind with a slow-maturing horse. He's still quite immature, but he's handling it all very well at this stage." Star 3YO Volkstok'n'barrell is the current favourite for the Gr1 New Zealand Derby which will be run at Ellerslie on 28 February.