At Hastings in New Zealand, Coolmore's former Gr1-winning Champion Australian Sire Fastnet Rock (Danehill-Piccadilly Circus, by Royal Academy) celebrated an elite race success when classy 3YO Australian-bred filly Avantage (Fastnet Rock-Asavant, by Zabeel) picked up where she left off last season with a determined win in the $70,000 Gr3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) for 3YO fillies, defeating Xpression & Rocket Fuel. Crowned last season's champion New Zealand 2YO, Avantage advanced her record to 6 wins (including the Gr1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes & Listed Karaka Million 2YO) and 1 placing (the Gr1 Sistema Diamond Stakes) from 7 starts for NZ$786,120 in earnings. Avantage is being aimed at the Gr1 New Zealand 1,000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November. "She’s a champion filly who has come back in really good order," trainer Jamie Richards told NZ Racing Desk. "She will improve a lot from that." From the stakes winning Zabeel mare Asavant, Avantage was a $210,000 purchase by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis at the 2017 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of The Oaks Stud.
Saturday’s $70,000 Group 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings was the first leg of the 47th New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series, and it has set the bar high with a thrilling battle down the home straight. Star billing in the lead-up to the race deservedly belonged to last season’s champion 2YO Avantage who defeated the locally trained Xpression by a short head. “The really good horses find a way to get to the line in front, and that’s what she did today,” trainer Jamie Richards said. “She was the champion two-year-old last season, and she’s come back in great order. The second horse is a serious filly, it was a great race between two very promising horses, and she just toughed it out.” Avantage takes the early Filly of the Year Series lead with 6 points. Xpression picked up three points with her second placing on Saturday, while Rocket Fuel (third) collected 1.5. The second leg of the Series is the prestigious $400,000 Group 1 gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 17, for which Avantage is now the $3 favourite.
Exciting Kiwi filly Santa Catarina could be aimed at Group 1 races in Sydney if she puts up a bold first-up display at Taupo today, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Lib Petagna-bred and raced daughter of Savabeel resumes in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1100m) for 3YO fillies, a race that could see her cross the Tasman for the Gr1 Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick. "She's doing great. She's strengthened up and she looks better than she did last preparation," trainer Stephen Marsh said. "I thought her trial was outstanding and while the nine-day backup from that trial isn't ideal, we were in search of better conditions and this race looks suitable." Marsh added: "It should give us a good line on where she's at. She's still a fair way from being screwed right down and there's a Group Two winner [Xpression] up against us, but I can't fault our girl." Should Santa Catarina impress, she is likely to head straight to Sydney for the Gr2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on 15 September as her only lead-up to the Gr1 Flight Stakes two weeks later. Santa Catarina (Savabeel-Discreet Evening, by Discreet Cat) has hitherto won 2 of her 3 starts, including the Listed Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre 2YO Stakes (1100m) at Te Rapa in May.
Talented Kiwi filly Xpression has overcome an illness that prematurely ended her juvenile season, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Showcasing 2YO has been sidelined since landing the Gr2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1200m) at Trentham at just her second start. "Unfortunately, she developed a virus that meant she didn't go to Wairoa and then on to the Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes [Gr1]," said Grant Cullen, who trains the filly with Guy Lowry. "It wasn't the end of the world and the time away has helped her. She's back in work now and doing well." Xpression is being prepared for an early season fillies' feature on her home track at Hastings. "We'll be looking at the Gold Trail Stakes with her, that's the first target," said Cullen. "She looks like she could be top notch so the 1000 Guineas in the South Island is the ultimate goal."
Haunui Farm in conjunction with Whitsbury Manor Stud have announced that Showcasing will no longer shuttle to the southern hemisphere, reports NZ Racing Desk. Showcasing's stallion career has continued to flourish at Whitsbury Manor Stud in the UK where he now commands a fully booked service fee of £35,000 having started his stud career in 2011 at a service fee of £5,000. The son of Oasis Dream now has 25 stakes winners after his 3YO son Dice Roll (FR) staked a claim for the French 2000 Guineas with a brilliant 5 length in the Gr3 Prix Djebel at Deauville on Tuesday. Given his European success and popularity, Whitsbury Manor Stud's offer to purchase the 50 per cent shareholding owned by the New Zealand-based shareholders of Showcasing was accepted on the condition that he no longer shuttle to the southern hemisphere. Showcasing has been represented by six stakes winners in the southern hemisphere this racing season including exciting 3YOs Be Bee and So Far Sokool and 2YO Group winners Xpression and Bit Lippy. Showcasing stood at Haunui Farm last season at $12,000 + GST and will be represented by three further racing crops in the southern hemisphere.
At Trentham in New Zealand, Haunui Farm's Gr2-winning shuttler Showcasing (Oasis Dream-Arabesque, by Zafonic) added a Group race success when 2YO New Zealand-bred filly Xpression (Showcasing-Xpress, by Don Eduardo) unwound a strong run from the rear of the field to win the $100,000 Gr2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1200m) for 2YOs, defeating Espumoso & Bit Lippy. Xpression, who hails from the family of Gr1 Underwood Stakes & Gr1 Doomben Cup winner Perlin and Karaka Million winner Hardline, improved her record to 1 win and 1 placing from 2 starts for NZ$64,750 in earnings. Haunui Farm studmaster Mark Chitty said he never had any thoughts of selling Xpression, whom he bred with childhood friend Iain Renton, reports NZ Racing Desk. "We were 13-year-olds together at King's College and Iain, whose father bred the Melbourne Cup winner Gold And Black, and I had three goes with Showcasing and this one was the best by a mile," Chitty said. "I said to Iain let's race her and we got a few others involved. It's very exciting." Xpression is now likely to be aimed at the Gr1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes next year.