Daily News Wrap

6 min read

Debt paid up for Slipper

Free of Debt (Unencumbered) will take his place in Saturday's G1 Golden Slipper S after the $150,000 late entry fee was paid.

Trainer Chris Bieg confirmed on Sunday that the colt, a last-start third in the G1 Blue Diamond S. would contest the $3.5m Rosehill feature with managing owner Aquis Farm paying the fee to get him into the race.

Free of Debt comfortably won a trial last week at Randwick and Bieg said he is ready to perform at his best.

Free Of Debt

"He's pretty much having a quiet few days at Rosehill now until he has his last bit of fast work on Wednesday morning," he said.

"I'm very excited. I can't be happier and he's just doing everything right."

"He seems to handle the travel well and fits into any new surroundings and takes it all in."

The final field for the Golden Slipper will be confirmed on Monday with the barrier draw to be held on Tuesday.

J-Mac takes Nature Strip ride

James McDonald has taken the ride aboard the favourite for The G1 Galaxy, Nature Strip (Nicconi).

Nature Strip hasn't raced since he was beaten into tenth as a short-price favourite in the G1 Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield when ridden by Damian Lane.

Lane has ridden Nature Strip in six of his last seven starts but McDonald has been riding Nature Strip in trackwork since he arrived in Sydney and took the reins when he easily won a Randwick trial last week.

With nine wins from 14 starts, there is no doubting Nature Strip's talents, but he has failed in two starts at Group 1 company.

He has had five trainers in his short career having started out with Robert Smerdon, then going to Robert Hickmott, John Sadler, Darren Weir and now Chris Waller.

All-Star changes likely

RV’s Executive General Manager of Racing, Greg Carpenter has conceded that there would most likely be a change to All-Star Mile eligibility next season.

Speaking a day after the inaugural running of the race, Carpenter said the one likely tweak was to raise the minimum rating for horses eligible in the race from its current mark of 70.

“We have to be very careful with the 3-year-olds,” Carpenter told racing.com. “Obviously, to be rated 95 or 100 as a three-year-old you’ve basically got to be a Group 1 winner."

“But with the older horses, yes, 70 was where we started this year. A lot of people are pulling back on (changing) that now, they actually think that those Cinderella story horses brought so much too it, but I do think there will be a lift in the minimum rating.”

Carpenter also flagged possible changes to the wildcard system.

Kent eyes Oaks with maiden winner

Mick Kent is plotting an ambitious shot at the G1 Australian Oaks for impressive Yarra Valley maiden winner Bye Bye Belle (Cape Blanco {Ire}).

Having just her third start Bye Bye Belle charged home to break her maiden by half a length in the 1950m race.

While it is only less than four weeks until the Group 1 staying feature for fillies at Randwick, Kent, who won that race with Absolutely (Redoute's Choice) in 2011, harbours grand ambitions for the filly.

"I like this filly a lot," Kent said. "She's got a good cruising speed, and I want to get her to a mile and half as she's a staying type filly. We've taken our time with her and hopefully she’ll end up somewhere in the autumn."

"We’ve still got our eye on Sydney with her. If we see our way clear, we’ll go to the (G3) Adrian Knox with her and we think she’ll like the soft ground."

Earlier, Pina (Reset) revealed herself as another Kent filly with Oaks potential, perhaps Queensland or South Australia, after winning on debut in a 1500m maiden.

The feature Yarra Glen Cup was taken out by Self Sense (Street Sense {USA}), a top class hurdler, who has also won the Listed Kilmore and Ipswich Cups.

Probabeel on to Sires Produce

Probabeel (NZ) will continue on to the G1 Sires’ Produce Stakes at Randwick next month after finishing sixth in Saturday's G3 Magic Night Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill.

The New Zealand filly was having her first run since winning the Karaka Million 2YO in January and trainer Jamie Richards feels she learned a lot from the experience.

Probabeel winning the Karaka Million 2YO

“The track at Rosehill was very deep and testing and she didn’t handle it all that well,” he said. “She dipped and dived a fair bit and had to make a long, sustained run to get near them, which is never easy at that track."

“I thought she kept coming nicely and I know she will be better for the run, her first for about six or seven weeks."

“I guess when you see a six in her form-line it doesn’t look that great, but given the circumstances, I think it was a satisfactory effort."

“She has come through the run nicely, so it is all go for the Sires’ Produce in three weeks."

Equinox lines up Manawatu Sires

Equinox (NZ) (Exceed And Excel) will head to the G1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce S. after impressing Te Akau Racing boss David Ellis with his win in the TAB March Madness Cup at Trentham on Saturday.

The $750,000 purchase proved too strong, returning to form on the better ground after a last-start failure at Matamata. Ellis said the colt would go to the Group 1 feature on March 30.


“It’s a great thrill for my owners in the Colts’ Syndicate because he’s now won two of his three starts and all going well, can go on to contest a Group One in a couple of weeks,” he said.

“We’d like to see good ground for him in the Sires’ and ride him with a bit of cover."

Trainer Jamie Richards agreed that the faster the track, the better for Equinox.

“He’ll be a better colt when he’s ridden with cover and give him something to chase," he said.

“He probably still wants the track a little better again (for the Sires’), but we’re heading into the autumn and the horse is going well. I thought Michael (McNab) gave him every chance and the second horse had trialled really well, so I think the form will stack up.”