Waikato Guineas winner Xbox is set to bypass a traditional lead-up to the New Zealand Derby and go straight into the blue-riband classic without another start, reports theinformant.co.nz. Xbox, who became the first stakes winner for The Oaks Stud's young stallion Niagara when landing the Gr2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa last Tuesday, will miss this Saturday's Gr2 Avondale Guineas at Ellerslie in favour of the Gr1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at the same venue on 3 March. "Ten days is too short a turnaround for a horse like him. I wouldn't back him up that quickly – it would be crazy," co-trainer Graham Richardson said. "He's come through the Waikato Guineas really well. I've been at sales in Australia for a few days, but I'm really pleased with how he's going." He added: "We'll probably take him to the races at some stage in the next couple of weeks and do a bit of work with him to keep him fit, but the Derby will be his next start."
At Ellerslie in New Zealand, Vinery Stud's champion shuttler More Than Ready (Southern Halo-Woodman's Girl, by Woodman) added a Group race success when 3YO Australian-bred filly Spring Heat (More Than Ready-Emaurismo, by Redoute's Choice) unleashed a devastating sprint to outclass his rivals in the $70,000 Gr3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) for 3YOs, defeating Xbox & The Great Southern. Racing in the green and red livery of Hermitage Thoroughbreds, Spring Heat improved her record to 2 wins and 1 placing from 3 starts for $50,250 in earnings. A $240,000 purchase at the 2016 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale from the draft of Sledmere Stud, Spring Heat is out of the unraced mare Emaurismo and hails from the family of Gr2 ATC Pago Pago Stakes winner Deferential and Gr2 ATC Silver Shadow Stakes winner Katima.
Thursday Odd Spot: An official video game titled Melbourne Cup Challenge will be released in November for use on Playstation 2, Xbox & PC. Victoria Racing Club chief executive Dale Monteith said: "We hope the game will help spread the word about Australia's most famous race to a new audience in Australia & around the world." Among the game's features will be "highly detailed graphics including realistic horses & jockeys, weather effects & accurately modelled Australian & international racecourses". Motion for the life-like horse & jockey animation was captured by Weta Digital (the VFX wizards behind The Lord Of The Rings films trilogy.