At Ellerslie in New Zealand, European Horse of the Year and 6 time-winning shuttle stallion Dylan Thomas (Danehill-Lagrion, by Dieses) celebrated a Gr1 triumph when 5YO mare Ladies First (Dylan Thomas-Just Polite, by Dehere) scored by 0.1-length for trainer Alan Sharrock in the $500,000 Auckland Cup (3200m) for 3YOs+, defeating 5YO gelding Five To Midnight & fellow 5YO mare Wildflower. "She was posted three wide around one bend and then two bends and I said she can't win," Sharrock revealed. "I'm rapt, but I did think she had got beaten on the line. I'm a bit shocked really – I thought she had run second. They all thought she was a wet-tracker, but her last three wins have been on firm tracks." Ladies First, an $8,000 bargain buy at the 2014 NZB National Weanling, Broodmare & Mixed Bloodstock Sale, took her record to 9 wins (including last year's Gr3 Wanganui Cup) & 3 placings from just 16 starts for $480,760 earnings. Connections are now considering having a tilt at this year's Gr1 Melbourne Cup, however first she'll head to the paddock ahead of a possible start in the Gr1 Livamol Classic.
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."
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.
At Arawa Park in Rotorua, Cambridge Stud's Gr1-winning stallion Keeper (Danehill-Nuwirah, by Pleasant Colony) added a black-type success when well-bred 5YO bay mare Wildflower (Keeper-Zygadene, by Zabeel) boosted her broodmare value significantly when landing the $50,000 Listed Jakkalberry Classic (1950m) for 3YO+, defeating Snow Secret & Angel In Bluejeans. Wildflower, who races in the Pencarrow Stud colours of owner Sir Peter Vela, improved her record to 4 wins and 5 placings from 14 starts for NZ$100,425 in earnings. Wildflower's third dam is Champion Irish 2YO and Champion European 3YO Habibti, a half-sister to Sir Patrick Hogan's legendary blue hen Eight Carat.