Daily News Wrap

6 min read

Summer in Sydney for Pecans

Joe Pride will target the Group 3 Festival S. and possibly the G2 Villers S with Pecans (Skilled), who returned to the track with a win in the Listed Lander Toyota Ladies Day Cup at Hawkesbury.

The 5-year-old mare collected her third black-type win by a narrow margin, but Pride feels she can continue to improve through the preparation, which is headed towards feature summer racing in Sydney.

"We took her to Brisbane earlier this year and she didn’t really handle the trip away, so if I can keep her here I will, but she's been a terrific mare for us," he said.

Bought for just $50,000 from Darley at the Inglis August Thoroughbred Sale last year, Pecans has won five races for her new connections, including the G3 Belle Of The Turf and the G3 Hawkesbury Crown.

Appleby eyeing more top targets

Charlie Appleby is hoping Blair House (IRE) (Pivotal {GB} can get a much-deserved Group 1 when he contests the G1 Mackinnon S. on Saturday.

Appleby won Tuesday's G1 Melbourne Cup with Cross Counter (GB) (Teofilo {IRE}), supplying Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin racing operation with its first victory.

He is now eyeing more success with Blair House, who was a narrow second in the G1 Caulfield S. at his most recent start.

“He's backing up after running a very creditable second behind Benbatl, who went on and franked that form finishing second to Winx," Appleby said. “And I purposely missed the Cox Plate for that reason."

“I couldn't turn it around on Benbatl and I definitely wasn't going to get past Winx, so we've skipped the Cox Plate to go into the Mackinnon with fresh legs.

“He's a versatile horse. He's won with cut in the ground, he's won on quick ground."

English jockey William Buick has been entrusted with the rides on both Blair House and Jungle Cat (GB) (Iffraaj {GB}), who contests the G1 VRC Sprint Classic.

“He's knows both the horses and that's important,” Appleby said.

Double for Frankel

Frankel (GB) moved to 11 winners for the season in Australia, with an interstate double on Thursday.

Franked (GB) opened his career in Australia for Michael Hickmott with a win in a Gawler maiden over 2118m, winning by nearly three lengths.

The now 5-year-old was purchased at the Tatts Autumn Horses in Training Sales last year by Hickmott for 32,000 guineas. He becomes the seventh individual winner in Australia for Frankel this season.

Frankel My Dear made it back-to-back victories for Robbie Laing with a strong performance when charging from last a Class 1 Hcp at Pakenham.

A $500,000 buy from the Cressfield draft at the 2016 Easter Sales, Frankel My Dear has now won two of his six starts.

Improved run expected in Matriarch

The occasion got the better of Savvy Coup (NZ) (Savabeel) in the G1 Cox Plate, but her connections are confident of a much better showing at Flemington on Saturday.

She will make her second Australian appearance in the G2 Matriarch S., with Chris Johnson turning down a strong book of rides at Riccarton to continue his association with the mare.

“She just lost the plot (in the Cox Plate),” co-trainer Michael Pitman said. “She was quiet and very settled out the back, but as soon as she got into the parade ring she just lost it.

“She pulled hard in the prelim, she got bumped a couple of times by Winx and she just over-raced and ran herself into the ground really.

“She normally just settles out the back and relaxes up. She gets keen, but Michael McNab and Chris Johnson have ridden her most of the time and they have never said it has been an issue, but the other day she just got right up on the steel behind the pace and I thought it was an outstanding run to finish as close as she did.”

Pitman is happy with his 4-year-old’s progress and said she has been working well ahead into Saturday’s contest.

“We think she has improved since the Cox Plate, which was always going to be the case because I’ve quite openly stated that the Cox Plate wasn’t her grand finale,” Pitman said.

“It just happened that it was a suitable race to use to lead into the Matriarch. “She worked really well on Tuesday and she’s come through the race really well.”

Vale Ekraar

Group 1 winner and producer Ekraar (USA) (Red Ransom {USA} recently died aged 25.

He began his New Zealand stallion career at Stony Bridge Stud before moving to Linwood Farm and finally relocating to Paradise Farm.


Ekraar’s best representatives were the Group 1 winners Shiz Sensational (Spring Classic, Zabeel S., Auckland Cup), Ekstreme (Captain Cook S.), Habibi (New Zealand Derby) and Rising Romance (Australian Oaks).

He was a well-performed and widely-travelled horse himself and won the G1 Fran Premier del Jockey Club as well as the Select S., the G3 Rose Of Lancaster S and the Vintage S., all at Group 3 level.

Ekraar’s last stakes performer, the Listed New Zealand St Leger runner-up Felaar will be a favoured runner in Saturday’s Listed Redwood Metropolitan Trohpy at Riccarton ahead of the G3 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup.

Guineas success would be treasured

Victory in Saturday’s G1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas with Dawn Patrol (NZ) (Dawn Approach {IRE}) would mean the world to trainer Frank Ritchie.

The unbeaten 3-year-old is owned by his long-time client Rex Jensen, who owned the Ritchie-trained 1997 G1 Thorndon Mile winner.

“He’s a huge enthusiast who just loves his racing and he selected this horse because he wanted a yearling by Dawn Approach. He had seen Dawn Approach race in England,” Ritchie said.

“It would give me great joy to win him a major race. Much more joy than the stake or anything. You can’t buy how he’d feel if he won.”

Ritchie also said there had been an astounding offer from overseas interests to purchase the horse after his second win which had been turned down.

“He’s eligible for the Karaka Million and that was always his target in the beginning.

“After he won a trial, I thought it would be hard to get him ready in time for the Guineas.

“He’s an aggressive horse and he likes to get on with his work. I don’t have to work him in company very often, because he does it himself.

“His ring-craft is not as good as I would like, but he is getting better, he is conditioned-up and it is a half million-dollar race.”