Beautifully named Gr1 ARC New Zealand Stakes (2000m) winning gelding Saint Emilion has signalled a productive campaign in in store following a recent 1200m trial win at Avondale this week, reports NZ Racing Desk. Leading in his customary fashion, Saint Emilion cruised to the line to defeat stablemate Highlad by a head. Co-trainer Andrew Forsman enthused, "They both trialled up really well. Saint Emilion was as competitive as usual, but Matt [Cameron] felt he didn't really cop the track. He could possibly kick off in the open 1600m at Te Rapa and so could Highlad. He (Highlad) is also coming up well." Both Saint Emilion and Highland appear to have thrived since pre-spell wins in the Gr3 Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) and Gr3 Rotorua Cup (2200m) respectively and add additional fire power to a Baker-Forsman stable that includes guns Bonneval, Zacada, Jon Snow, together with Mongolian Marshal and Madison County (both also heat winners at Avondale) and promising juveniles Rubira and Botti. Interestingly, Saint Emilion (by Mastercraftsman) is assumedly named after the 8th Century Italian monk of the same name who carved his hermitage into a rock.
All finalists have been confirmed for the New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards, reports NZ Racing Desk. The category winners, together with Horse of the Year and the NZTR award for Outstanding Contribution to Racing, will be announced at a black-tie dinner in Auckland, at Ellerslie Racecourse, on Sunday 26 August. The major categories are:
Click here to view full list of categories and confirmed winners.
Meanwhile, the champion stable of Cambridge trainers Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman have also confirmed that Gr1 Australian Derby winner Jon Snow, Gr1 New Zealand Derby winner Vin de Dance, and Gr1 Sydney Cup runner-up Zacada will race in Australia in the spring, reports NZ Racing Desk. Jon Snow's primary target is still to be confirmed, but Vin de Dance and Zacada will be aimed at the Melbourne Cup. "All looks well with Jon Snow. He's got over the niggling foot problems, and Zacada was obviously runner-up in the Sydney Cup and we'll look at the Melbourne Cup with him," said Forsman. "Vin de Dance will get over there again. He ran well (for fourth placings) in the Rosehill Guineas and the Australian Derby."
Champion Kiwi trainer Murray Baker has confirmed that talented stable-mates Zacada and Vin de Dance (see below) are likely to be aimed at the Melbourne Cup later in the year. The late-maturing Zacada (Zabeel) finally lived up to the potential he has always shown when going down narrowly in a photo finish in the Gr1 Sydney Cup (3200m), while Vin de Dance (Roc de Cambes) performed best of the stable's four Australian Derby runners when finishing fourth in the prestigious Classic. Both horses are now exempt from the ballot for the Melbourne Cup. "They're all home and going out for a spell," Baker told NZ Racing Desk. "Zacada went huge in the Sydney Cup and just missed out. He's now qualified for the Melbourne Cup and so is Vin De Dance." Baker added: "They'll both have a good spell and we'll work out plans to get them both back to Melbourne and maybe the Cup. Vin De Dance is owned by OTI and I know they're keen on the Cup."
On day two of The Championships at Royal Randwick, deceased former White Robe Lodge stallion Yamanin Vital (Sir Tristram-She Might Hula, by Caucasus) celebrated an elite race success when 9YO New Zealand-bred gelding Who Shot Thebarman (Yamanin Vital-Ears Carol, by Carolingian) turned back the clock to produce a sterling performance and win the $2 million Gr1 Sydney Cup (3200m) for 3YO+, defeating Zacada & Sir Charles Road. Who Shot Thebarman, who is owned by New Zealand-based siblings Dan, Humphrey, Michael and Shaun O'Leary, improved his record to 11 wins (including the Gr1 Auckland Cup, Gr2 Zipping Classic, Gr2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup & Gr2 Avondale Cup) and 11 placings (including the Gr1 Melbourne Cup & Gr1 Sydney Cup) from 51 starts for $4,655,586 in earnings. "He's been such a frustrating horse because he's run so many great seconds and thirds in Sydney Cups and Melbourne Cups," trainer Chris Waller said of the evergreen stayer. "He's given us one hell of a ride. He's nine years old and if Winx is not a pretty good advertisement on how to look after a horse I think Thebarman takes the cake. That's the best he's looked today as a nine-year-old." There was drama before the race when Japanese raider Prestwick was a late withdrawal due to veterinary advice.
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 Ellerslie in New Zealand on Sunday, Darley's 2006 Champion 2YO Colt & 2007 Gr1 Kentucky Derby-winning shuttler Street Sense (Street Cry-Bedazzle, by Dixieland Band) added a black-type success when 3YO colt Thunder Down Under (Street Sense-River Dreaming, by Galileo) scored by 0.5-length for trainer Stephen Ralph in the NZ$50,000 in the Listed 3YO Salver (2100m) for 3YOs, over 3YO geldings Splendido (O'Reilly-Vickezzchardonnay, by Don Eduardo) & Zacada (Zabeel-Lacada, by Giant's Causeway). This was the first stakes victory for Thunder Down Under who took his record to 1 win and 2 placings (including the Gr3 ARC Bonecrusher Stakes) from 7 starts for NZ$42,400 earnings. Thunder Down Under, who hails from the family of 7-time Gr1 winning (including the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe) champion French galloper All Along, was a NZ$12,000 purchase by Ralph Racing Stables at the 2014 NZB Select Yearling Sale from the draft of Curraghmore Stud. The colt's trainer was both relieved and excited after the win as it was the first for the stable since moving to their new Te Rapa base recently, reports NZ Racing Desk. "We've been under a little pressure as we haven't had a win yet but it's a great result today," said Ralph. "The love affair continues with him as we've loved him from the first day we had him so it's nice to get this one. Ralph believes Thunder Down Under is a genuine New Zealand Derby contender but he isn't looking too far ahead and will let the dust settle before assessing the immediate program for the colt.
At Otaki in New Zealand, Cambridge Stud's dual Gr1-winning stallion Tavistock (Montjeu-Upstage, by Quest For Fame) added a Group success when 3YO gelding Tavago (Tavistock-Sara Ann, by Stravinsky) scored by a short head for trainers Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young in the NZ$70,000 Gr3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) for 3YOs, over fellow 3YO geldings Shadows Cast (Per Incanto-Ages Past, by Slavic) & Zacada (Zabeel-Lacada, by Giant's Causeway). Tavago, who was a NZ$60,000 purchase at the 2014 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of Cambridge Stud, took his record to 2 wins and 1 placing from 3 starts for NZ$48,275 earnings. Co-trainer Natalie Young said that Tavago would now be aimed at the Gr1 New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie on 5 March. "We've got the Derby in the back of our minds," she told NZ Racing Desk. "He's a real staying type." The 3YO Classic will now be at the forefront of the Cambridge trainers' thinking after Tavago got home late at Otaki to score in the hands of Danielle Johnson. "He's a really nice horse in the making, very exciting," Young said. From the unraced Zabeel mare Sara Ann, Tavago hails from the outstanding Gay Poss family of champion sprinter Lankan Rupee, Victoria Derby winning stallion Grosvenor, Australian Oaks winner Mahaya, and her half-sister Shadea, the dam of champion racehorse and stallion Lonhro.
Talented 3YO Zacada (Zabeel-Lacada, by Giant's Causeway) is returning home to New Zealand after failing to make an impression in either of his Australian starts, reports NZ Racing Desk. Trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman held Gr1 Victoria Derby ambitions for the son of Zabeel, but his campaign was halted after his unplaced runs at Sandown and Caulfield. Zacada raced erratically and hung badly on the home bend when contesting the Cove Hotel Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield last Saturday with stewards consequently ordering the horse to trial before he races again. Baker and Forsman had had hopes for Zacada after he scored a highly impressive 4.8-length win at Arawa Park in July.
Trainer Murray Baker says a trial hit-out for newly crowned New Zealand Horse of the Year Mongolian Khan at Taupo on Wednesday morning will depend on what the weather does between now and then, reports theinformant.co.nz. "We'll just wait and see what the weather does before we make a decision with Mongolian Khan," Baker said. "I'm happy with him and if he misses Taupo he can have a trial in Melbourne." Mongolian Khan is expected to open his Melbourne spring campaign in the Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on 12 September, with the Gr1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) another race connections are considering en route to his major spring targets, the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. The Australian and New Zealand Derby winner is booked on a charter flight to Melbourne this Sunday, along with stable-mates Dal Cielo, Maygrove and exciting Zabeel 3YO Zacada, whose only start to date resulted in a brilliant runaway victory at Rotorua on 1 July. Zacada is being set for the VRC Derby, while Gr1 Diamond Stakes winner Dal Cielo has the Caulfield Guineas as his primary goal.
A long-standing friendship with Sir Patrick Hogan is providing two Rotorua thoroughbred enthusiasts with special reason to look forward to the spring, reports NZ Racing Desk. Dairy farmers Andrew Bryant and Dave Armstrong bred and race the highly-regarded Zacada with the Cambridge Stud principal. The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained son of Zabeel was an impressive winner at his juvenile debut at Arawa Park earlier this month and he has been set for the Melbourne spring carnival. The $1.5 million Gr1 Victorian at Flemington on 31 October is the ultimate goal for the rising 3YO. "We've had a few horses with Murray and we're all quite excited about this one," Bryant said. "He won't race here again before he goes to Australia." He added: "We're mainly a breeding operation and race a few that we can't sell, which is where Zacada fits in and we've been told the racing gods were on our shoulders when he didn't go." Bryant and Armstrong, who operate under the Andari banner, have enjoyed a strong association with Cambridge Stud for many years. "We started out share milking next to Patrick way back in the seventies and he initially helped us with our horse selections," Bryant said. Andari are currently breeding from a broodmare band of five, which includes Zacada's dam Lacada. Giant's Causeway Lacada, who is a daughter of dual Gr1-winning New Zealand mare Showella, is also the dam of Bruce Wallace's Gr2 Waikato Guineas runner-up Giant Turtle. "We're hunting around for a stallion for Lacada at the moment," Bryant said. "She's in foal to Declaration of War and we've got her Encosta de Lago filly, who is a rising yearling." Also in the band is Veronica Franco, a Gr3 winner for them from Roger James' stable, who unfortunately lost a Fastnet Rock foal. While Veronica Franco's defeat of Katie Lee in the Gr3 Eulogy Stakes has been their racing highlight so far, Andari's major breeding triumph was the Gr1 New Zealand Oaks success of Keeper's daughter Midnight Oil.
Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman inched closer to breaking the New Zealand trainers' record for a season with a double at Te Awamutu on Sunday and will have a further two opportunities to bridge the gap at the Rotorua meeting tomorrow, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Cambridge trainers had just three runners at the Waipa meeting and came away with the two wins and a quinella. They won the 100th Anniversary Waipa 1150 with Charleston Girl, then High Society, part-owned by Baker, beat stable-mate Mistaar in the Power Farming 1580. It was a good day at the office for the country's leading trainers, taking their tally to 104 wins for the season, just seven short of the record set by John Sargent in 2011-12. "It was good to get a couple more on the board," said Baker, whose previous best season was 2008-09 with 73 New Zealand wins. "I know we've still got a bit of time before the season ends, but I'm not sure we'll get there. We'll be trying but we're not going to sacrifice any (horses) to beat the record. If it happens, great." Debutant Zacada, a son of Zabeel, will be the first of the Baker–Forsman runners at Rotorua tomorrow when he contests the Marks Ewen & Associates 2YO, while Dentelle will line up for the stable in the NZI 1230. "Zacada has had a couple of jump-outs and I really like him," Baker said. "He's a grandson of Showella (dual Gr1 winner) and a brother to the pretty good three-year-old Bruce Wallace has got (Giant Turtle). On his breeding he's going to be better over ground." Dentelle is a lightly tried daughter of Swiss Ace who won on debut at Pukekohe last August and will be looking to turn her form around after tailing the field home fresh-up at Ellerslie last month.