Daily News Wrap

6 min read

Champion mare ready to go

A week out from her race return, Winx (Street Cry {Ire}) has reminded jockey Hugh Bowman just why she is the world's best with a sparkling work-out at Randwick in front of a large group of her adoring fans.

The mare galloped with stablemate Egg Tart on Saturday morning with Bowman letting her settle four lengths behind before letting Winx pick up her rival near the line.

"I felt the afterburners for the first time this preparation. I didn't let her use them, but I felt them," Bowman said.

Winx will run in the G2 Apollo S. seeking her 30th consecutive win and her gallop bolstered Bowman.

"She looks after herself in her barrier trials so you have to take her on trust," Bowman said. “She loves the attention and it's a bit like a race day so it's good for her."

Crack sprinter way too good

Nature Strip (Nicconi) demolished his opposition in the G2 Rubiton S. in his first start for the Chris Waller stable after being transferred from the disqualified Darren Weir.

He sped along in front after a tardy getaway before kicking clear.

Waller's Melbourne stable foreperson Jo Taylor said the horse had done everything right in the short time he has been at Flemington and she was suitably impressed by Saturday's performance.

"He's an absolute gentleman. He hasn't put a foot wrong since he's arrived in the stable.

"It was fantastic to see him do this and produce what we know is a class performance that he's capable of producing.

With major Melbourne sprint races on the horizon, Taylor said Waller would talk to Nature Strip's owners before confirming immediate targets.

Avilius top Cup fancy

Avilius (GB) Pivotal {GB}) has soared to the top of G1 Australian Cup markets following his impressive winning return at Caulfield.

He powered home from a rearward position to claim Saturday's G3 T S Carlyon Cup.

Trainer James Cummings said he was expecting further improvement from the gelding at his second Australian preparation and Avilius would remain in Melbourne for the lead-up to the Australian Cup.

"He enjoys his time in Melbourne," Cummings said. "I used the farm at Osborne Park to get the full benefit in getting him fit enough, but he does enjoy Carbine Lodge and the guys cherish him and look after him.

"He's a pretty serious horse and he's capable of graduating to weight-for-age and hopefully he's on an upward spiral this campaign."

Surf and turf working

Mick Price's decision to use beach training to complement his city base continues to pay off with Princess Of Queens (Magnus) winning the G2 Bellmaine S. at Caulfield.

He has joined trainer Mathew Williams to have a team at Warrnambool, although Princess Of Queens remains in training at Caulfield.

Price says the beach rejuvenates older gallopers and is a key ingredient in Princess Of Queens maintaining form.

"They get a bit sick of blokes like me trying to train them, so we just leave her alone, keep her happy, take her to the beach, give her a few gallops and turn up on race day," Price said.

"She's had a few goes at winning a Group race before so to be winning a Group race at this stage is fantastic."

Champagne corks pop

Champagne Cuddles (Not A Single Doubt) has snared her first Group 2 victory in the Yarraman Park Breeders Classic at Warwick Farm.

The Bjorn Baker-trained mare had previously been placed nine times in Group 1 and 2 races and fought hard for her win on Saturday.

"She is a lovely mare and a pleasure to train and it's great to win a good race with her," Baker said.

"I'm thrilled. She has won over a million dollars now. I thought she might be better on top of the ground and this is a special win."

It was also a special win for jockey Blake Shinn.

"I rode her mother Sky Cuddle and it's great to win for (owner) Stuart Ramsay," Shinn said.

"I thought she was so well-weighted in this race on 55 kilos. Cool Passion was tough, but Champagne Cuddles was up to the challenge."

Another Group credit

Imelda Mary (NZ) (Ferlax) picked up her second Group 2 feature of the season when she was successful in the Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Classic at Te Rapa.

Trained by part-owner Wayne Hills, the filly had won the G2 Royal S. at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day and then dropped back to a mile when eighth, but only three lengths off the winner Long Leaf (Fastnet Rock) in the Karaka 3YO Classic.

Her latest success has confirmed Hillis’ intention to head to Trentham for a Group 1 challenge.

“She’ll go to the Lowland S. next and then onto the New Zealand Oaks,” he said.

Bob springs a surprise

Sponge Bob (NZ) (Keeper) successfully bridged the gap from maiden company to stakes grade in Saturday’s G2 Warren Storm Lifebrokers Waikato Guineas.

He had opened his winning account at Te Rapa last month and co-trainer Graham Richardson was confident of another bold showing, despite the gelding going out at 33-1.

“I thought he would run in the first three,” he said. “I’m chuffed for the owners, the staff and the horse.”

The stable also won the Waikato Guineas 12 months ago with Xbox (NZ) (Niagara), who was subsequently sold to Hong Kong.

Top 3YO Hong Kong-bound

Star 3-year-old Madison County (NZ) (Pins) was withdrawn from Saturday’s G1 Herbie Dyke S. with a sale pending to Hong Kong interests.

The China Horse Club-raced gelding was a NZ$38,000 Karaka purchase out of Waikato Stud’s draft and this season has won the G1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas and the G1 Levin Classic.

“The sale process is well down the track and we hope to have it all finalised early next week,” the group’s racing and bloodstock manager Michael Wallace said.

“While it was a shame to miss out on the opportunity to contest another Group 1, it will be exciting to see him head up to Hong Kong for the next stage of his career.”

Trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, Madison County also won the G2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas and finished a last-start third in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic.

Harlow stakes her claim

Harlow (NZ) (Proisir) will be fast-tracked into black type company following her debut success at Te Rapa.

“We really like her and she did trial well,” trainer Jamie Richards said. “She’ll go on to the Matamata Breeders’ S. in a fortnight. She’s got it all in front of her.”

Harlow dropped to the tail of the field and sizzled home from last on the turn for rider Matt Cameron in the colours of race sponsor Te Akau.

“The stock of Proisir look quite exciting and this filly has got a lot of presence about her,” Richards said.

A NZ$41,000 New Zealand Bloodstock’s South Island Sale, Harlow was offered by Pear Tree Farm Agistment.

She is a grand-daughter of the stakes winner Joan’s Best (NZ) (Gold Brose) and the family of the Gr.1 WA Derby winner Markus Maximus (NZ) (Pentire {GB}).