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Key Guineas lead-up at Te Rapa

2 min read

The G2 James & Annie Sarten Memorial S., at Te Rapa on Monday will undoubtedly provide another piece of the puzzle to the outcome of next month’s southern Classic.

The Labour Day feature will see a number of leading candidates for the G1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas at Riccarton square off, including the current market leader Madison County (NZ) (Pins).

He earned his place at the head of the Guineas betting with a strong-finishing victory in the G2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas at the expense of the talented stakes-winning filly Melt (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}).

Drawn to go close

Prepared by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman for the China Horse Club, Madison County has an ideal gate and under regular rider Matthew Cameron the gelding will have every chance to strengthen his claims for the 2000 Guineas.

Madison County

The Cambridge stable of New Zealand’s leading trainers have a strong hand in the event with Qiji Express (NZ) (Shamexpress {NZ}) also a live chance.

He was withdrawn from the Hawke’s Bay Guineas after drawing wide, but has been blessed this time with a handy gate.

Stakes performer

Qiji Express has won twice from seven starts, including a Taupo success at his most recent appearance, and was a stakes performer last season.

Qiji Express

Wayne Hillis’ Matamata stable is running hot with a winning double at Tauranga on Friday and Bit Lippy (NZ) (Showcasing {GB}) can be relied upon to give another strong account of himself.

Four of his five of his career starts have been in black type company and he has performed with great credit throughout.

Last term he claimed the G3 Phoenix Park 2YO Classic and opened his 3-year-old campaign with a tidy performance to win in age group company at Avondale.

Rivalry to continue

He beat the highly-regarded Rip Em Up (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle {IRE}) there and she will oppose him again as the only female Sarten contender.

She has since finished runner-up again behind the unbeaten Dawn Patrol (NZ) (Dawn Approach {IRE}) and, while she has been green in both of her starts, there’s no denying the raw talent she possesses.

Others with strong claims include Dratini (All Too Hard), an emerging colt out of the dual Group 1 winner Dorabella (NZ) (Postponed {USA}) and Spirit Of Osman (NZ) (Savabeel) if he can find his Group 1 form of last season.