Daily News Wrap

7 min read

Grand resuming effort

Avantage (Fastnet Rock) produced a stirring first-up performance to open her Sydney campaign in outstanding style.

She led for rider Opie Bosson and was under siege in the straight before lifting to claim the spoils in the G3 TAB Birthday Card S, and confirm a tilt at the G2 Arrowfield 3YO Sprint at Randwick on April 13.

“I didn’t expect her to lead, but it was a lovely ride by Opie,” trainer Jamie Richards said. “She was headed and fought back well. She’s a high-class filly.

“She’ll go on to The Championships now. She’s pencilled in for the Arrowfield, it’s worth a lot of money ($1 million) and that’s what we’re here for.”

Group 1 target for mare

A return to Group 1 racing has been confirmed for the quality mare Volpe Veloce (Foxwedge).

She charged to victory in the G2 Windsor Park Stud Japan-New Zealand Trophy at Tauranga to set up a crack at the G1 Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ S.

“She’s a great chaser. It was a really good effort , she’s such a good horse,” co-trainer Graham Richardson said. “She’ll go to Te Aroha next in two weeks’ time.”

Volpe Veloce, who was coming off an unplaced run on a wet track in the G1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic, settled back in the field and produced a strong and timely finishing run for rider Michael McNab.

Tulloch option for Kiwi

Murray Baker will turn his attention to next Saturday’s G2 Tulloch S. with Madison County (NZ) (Pins) after a float mishap forced the gelding’s withdrawal from the G1 Rosehill Guineas.

“He rubbed his hip on the float coming over (to Rosehill),” he said. “He’s not sore as they trotted him up and down, but it’s about as big as a small plate and they decided he had to be scratched.”

The Guineas was to have been the final lead-up race for Madison County before the G1 Australian Derby.

“There’s the Tulloch for him next week so that’s the obvious race,” he said.

Midterm breaks out in Cup

Aided by a fine ride from Jamie Kah, the Liam Howley-trained Midterm (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) outstayed his rivals to win the G3 NE Manion Cup.

“It’s a real credit to all the team up at Macedon and Liam has done a really good job,” part-owner Nick Williams said.

“Jamie rode him beautifully and gave him every chance. We asked her to get him into a good rhythm and the horse relished the ground. Hopefully he pulls up well and will be back for the Sydney Cup.”

Midterm loped along in second spot before going to the front before the turn and stayed on strongly to beat 2017 winner Big Duke (Ire) (Raven’s Pass {Ire}) and the favourite Shraaoh (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}).

Extraordinary incident

New Zealand Police are investigating a bizarre incident in Cambridge early on Saturday morning after Pop Star Princess (NZ) (Makfi {GB}) was the target of an alleged ‘horse-napping’ attempt.

Trainer and part-owner Fred Cornege and his wife Lindsay were awoken by in the early hours by their dogs barking and subsequently found the mare’s box empty.

The police were called and persons with a ute and a float were confronted and Pop Star Princess was unloaded and returned to the stables.

As a result of the incident, the multiple winner was scratched from her Tauranga engagement on Saturday .

Hurdler goes flat out

Master Shuhood (Ire) (Tamayuz {GB}) has made a winning Australian debut off the back of a hurdle placing in England.

Now in the hands of Chris Waller, Master Shuhood was successful in Saturday's Peninsula Essence H. at Mornington.

Waller's Melbourne assistant Jo Taylor thought Master Shuhood could be competitive in Saturday's race after three jump-outs in preparation for his Australian debut.

"As with Sir Pippin, who won last Sunday, their first two jump-outs were a little backward, but after a third one, the penny dropped," Waller’s Melbourne assistant Jo Taylor said.

"We thought after three trials he could come here and perform well, but he'll also continue to improve. He needs a bit of a trip, a mile and a-quarter and we're hoping up to a mile-and-a-half.”

Weather switch works

Sydney’s poor weather was worked to advantage for the connections of Consensus (NZ) (Postponed {USA}) in Melbourne.

It forced a switch of plans and the Stephen McKee-prepared mare cashed in with victory in the G2 Sunline S. at Moonee Valley.

“The way it has worked out, it is just the race that fell for us and it just happened to be the Sunline Stakes, so it’s great to be able to get that one,” said McKee, who trained the great Sunline (NZ) (Desert Sun {GB}) with his father Trevor.

“We were actually going to go for the Ranvet in Sydney, but it was too wet. She doesn’t seem to go on tracks that are dead or maybe an early slow, so we decided to can Sydney and come here and it has worked out alright so far.

“We will make a few plans during the week. She is here until Saturday. We may even take her home and get her ready for Brisbane on fresher legs this year.”

Star to exhibit quality again

Star Exhibit (Statue Of Liberty {USA}) has struck a purple patch of form and in his current touch he looks to have a strong chance of adding to his record at Bunbury on Sunday.

The 7-year-old produced a career best performance to win the G2 Perth Cup over 2400 metres in early January and following a brief break he returned to claim the Listed Detonator S. over 1800 metres.

A return to a middle distance in the Listed Bull & Bush Tavern Cup will be ideal with last-start stakes winner Burger Time (Numerous Times {Can}) looking to be his main rival.

He’s A Parker (He’s A Decoy {Ire}) is racing consistently and sure to be competitive again and Come Play With Me (Blackfriars) gives trainer Adam Durrant solid back-up.

Sense of Cup timing

Success in the Listed Mornington Cup has earned Self Sense (Street Sense {USA}) a ballot exemption into the G1 Caulfield Cup.

Trainer David Brideoake said he would have to sit down with his fellow owners and discuss options for the gelding, who emerged last season as one of the country's best jumpers.

"This entry into the Caulfield Cup, it means a lot," Brideoake said. "It's a hard race to get a start in, so I think we'll have to have a lunch on Self Sense and discuss the pros and cons."

Self Sense was lining up for his third attempt at his home cup, having finished sixth in 2017 and 2018.

Brideoake said the win was highly satisfying after he returned to winning form in last Sunday's Yarra Valley Cup.

"He hit his straps last week, he pulled up beautifully and we decided to run him on a six-day back," Brideoake said. "It's terribly exciting. It doesn't get any better than that."

All’s well that ends well

Rider Robert Hannam defied pre-race instructions, but was forgiven afterwards by trainers John and Karen Parsons after success in the G3 Valachi Downs South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ S. aboard Residential (NZ) (Pins).

The plan wasn’t to lead, but the mare jumped to the front and, after slipping clear on the turn, had enough in reserve to see it through.

The daughter of the stakes winner Metropolitan (NZ) (Elusive City {USA}) carries the Waikato Stud colours and is from the family of the former champion South African filly Petrava (NZ) (Imposing).

Retirement for Melbourne Cup winner

After struggling to find form in two starts this year, Almandin (Ger) {Monsun {Ger}) has been retired by Team Williams. The 2016 Melbourne Cup winner has had ten starts in the last 2 and a half years, with a win in the 2018 BMW H. (Tancred) his most recent victory.

The son of Monsun joined Macedon Lodge after being purchased out of Germany following a win in a Group 2200m race at Baden Baden.

Almandin retires with career earnings of $5.3 million and wins in the G3 VRC Bart Cummings S., Listed MRC Harry White Classic and Listed VRC Japan Trophy in addition to his two G1 victories.