Daily News Wrap

7 min read

Orr draw a concern

Chris Waller is disappointed by the wide barrier handed to Shillelagh (NZ) (Savabeel) in the G1 CF Orr S., but he’s not counting her out if she gets her share of luck in the running..

Waller has two genuine hopes in Saturday’s Caulfield contest with G1 Rosehill Guineas winner D'Argento (So You Think {NZ}) also in the line-up.

“I was disappointed with the draw for Shillelagh, but you can't have everything your own way," Waller said.

“I'd say from the draw she just needs to find a bit of cover and she'll be rattling home late. If she gets a bit of luck she can certainly win the race, but she will need luck."


Waller said the $5 million All-Star Mile at Flemington next month was an obvious target for the mare.

D'Argento was winless during his spring campaign, but was placed three times including his second in the G1 Epsom Handicap.

“He had a different type of preparation in terms of what he achieved in the spring,” Waller said. “He's better than most of those runs. It's good to see him draw well and he should run well fresh."

Primed for first-up run

Godolphin trainer James Cummings is hoping for a perfect opening from Kementari (Lonhro) in Saturday’s G1 CF Orr S. at Caulfield.

Three of the horse’s four career wins came last autumn, including the G1 Randwick Guineas.

"We've had a good start to the year and I think we can hit the ground running in the Group 1s with Kementari," Cummings said.

"Hopefully this can be his best campaign and he's done nothing to disappoint in the lead-up.

"The C F Orr is a time-honoured race to kick off in and I'm very respectful of his opposition so he'll have to return at a really high level.

"We don't want to focus too much on what remains for his campaign, but it's really important that he goes out and delivers first-up, even if it's a glimpse of what he's shown us in the past."


Time on mare’s side

Cranbourne trainer Ken Keys is prepared to make haste slowly with his quality mare Spanish Reef (Lope De Vega {IRE}), who will come off an extended break to get down to business again on Saturday.

He has goals in place for the 5-year-old, who has been a terrific money-spinner for the stable, and will plot a path laden with patience to hit the target races in prime form.

Spanish Reef will return from a five-month break in Saturday’s G3 mypunter.com Geoffrey Bellmaine S. and Keys is happy with her condition, although there is a lot of improvement to follow.

“She’s not wound up by any means. She’s progressing well and it’s a kick off point for what’s to follow,” he said. “To be honest, she’ll probably get run off her legs.

“She’s coming off the first decent spell of her career so she’s quite big and we’ll let the racing take it off her.”

Spanish Reef came to her best form last autumn when she went from a Benchmark 84 success to back-to-back wins in the G3 Schweppervescence Trophy at Flemington and in the G2 Sunline S. at Moonee Valley.

“We hope to get to the Sunline again and then end up in Sydney with her,” Keys said. “We’ll be keeping her fresher than last time and all the signs at this stage are positive.”

Baker double-handed

Stablemates Champagne Cuddles (Not A Single Doubt) and Egyptian Symbol (Stratum) give trainer Bjorn Baker a strong hand in the G2 Yarraman Park Breeders Classic at Warwick Farm.

“It's a bit unfortunate to have two mares who I couldn't be happier with against each other,” Baker said.

“But it's a Group 2, neither of them has won a Group 2 and it's probably the next step on both of their CVs hopefully."

Champagne Cuddles' biggest win was in the G3 Gold Coast Guineas while Egyptian Symbol has also been an asset to the stable with her eight wins highlighted by Group 3 victories in the The Nivison and the Toy Show Quality in the spring.

“They've been two stable stalwarts over the past couple of years and I'm reluctant to put one in front of the other,” Baker said.

“You might have to lean to Champagne Cuddles. On her day she's very, very good and she has been placed at Group 1 level four times so if she runs up to that she's going to be very hard to beat."

EI shuts down UK racing

An outbreak of equine flu has forced UK racing to be shut down until February 13, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced.

Racing's rulers are set to make a further assessment on Monday as to when racing can resume after the virus was detected.

Trainer Donald McCain has confirmed that he has three confirmed cases in his yard.

Whilst the infected horses had not been racing this week, McCain has had runners at Wolverhampton, Ayr and Ludlow. As a result, any trainer who ran a horse at those meetings has had restrictions placed on their movement.

No further positive tests have been recorded, but another three days are needed before it will be possible to make a decision on whether it is safe to resume racing as the disease can take that long to show its symptoms.

“This may then allow declarations to take place on Tuesday in time for racing on Wednesday, with 24-hour declarations for all fixtures on this day, should racing be able to resume,” the BHA said.

Graff impresses Berry

Leading Sydney rider Tommy Berry left Flemington in high spirits after a flying visit to partner quality colt Graff (Star Witness) in a straight-track jump-out ahead of the G1 Lightning S.

The Kris Lees-trained Graff was sent over 800 metres on Friday morning for contenders in Saturday week's sprint feature.

The colt finished a close second to Booker (Written Tycoon) with Lean Mean Machine (Zoustar) not far away for third.

"He actually surprised me how sharp he was without the blinkers on," Berry said.

"He never felt like he got lost at any stage, which was another good sign.

"Obviously the blinkers are going to sharpen him up even more. I was worried about the 1000 metres in the Lightning being too short for him, but after his bit of work, it left me with a bit of confidence.”

Doubt over top mare’s future

The future of the dual Group 1winner Lizzie L’Amour (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}) is uncertain following her defection from Saturday’s G1 Herbie Dyke S. at Te Rapa.

The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained 6-year-old pulled up a little sore on Thursday and her trainers opted not to take any chances with their grand mare.

“She galloped well on Thursday morning and just walked out of her box a little bit tenderly on Thursday afternoon,” Forsman said.

“We gave her a bit of a trot-up and we just weren’t quite happy. It’s more wear and tear than anything, from a lot of racing.

“Given the track is going to be pretty firm we certainly didn’t think she owes us or her connections anything.

“It’s probably the right thing to put her out and I’d say she could potentially be retired, but we haven’t made that decision yet.”