Daily News Wrap

6 min read

Major offer refused

A major Australian offer for the multiple Group 1 winner Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) has been knocked back

The Jamie Richards-trained mare is raced by Fortuna Syndications and Director John Galvin said she was recently the subject of a NZ$3.25 million offer to purchase her as a broodmare proposition.

Melody Belle

“Clearly this was a very significant offer for our wonderful race mare presented by a genuine and well regarded Australian-based breeding operation.

“Accordingly, the offer was put in front of the 34 syndicate members for consideration and the outcome was that 100 per cent of the membership chose to decline the offer.

"Members felt very strongly that Melody Belle had yet to reach her potential as a race horse and should be allowed to race on under the current ownership until such time as she was ready to retire from racing.

“Members also expressed the view that she was a well-loved race horse by the New Zealand racing public and in what are difficult times for racing, any future success on the race track would boost the profile and spirits of thoroughbred racing in New Zealand."

Bowman called up

Hugh Bowman has got the ride on Santa Ana Lane (Lope De Vega {Ire}) in the Group 1 Chairman's Sprint Prize in Hong Kong on April 28.

The booking was confirmed on Tuesday by the Anthony Freedman stable with Bowman to replace the suspended Mark Zahra.

Santa Ana Lane

Zahra has lodged an appeal against the severity of his 25-meeting penalty, due to start on April 23.

Santa Ana Lane worked at Flemington on Tuesday morning and is due to fly to Hong Kong next Monday.

Australia's premier sprinter is a likely favourite in the Hong Kong feature, a race won by Chautauqua (Encosta de Lago) in 2016.

Viddora (I Am Invincible) is also set to contest the race and is already in Hong Kong, following her fourth in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai.

Libretto to Randwick on way to Brisbane

Talented staying mare Our Libretto (NZ) (O'Reilly {NZ}) will step towards the Brisbane winter carnival through a race at Randwick this Saturday.

The 5-year-old, a winner of five of her 10 starts, will contest the G3 JRA Plate rather than the G3 Easter Cup at Caulfield on Saturday before heading to Queensland.

Our Libretto

"We feel that it's a good track for her to go to at Randwick," trainer Grahame Begg told Racing.com. "It's a similar style race (to the Easter Cup). A quality Group 3 handicap and she gets in with 53 kilograms."

"We just thought it was the right race to go to on the big track because we have aspirations of going to Queensland with her."

Our Libretto is likely to target the G1 Doomben Cup in May.

"There's plenty of races up there for middle-distance horses and for horses running over a mile-and-a-half," he said. "She'll be entered for the Doomben Cup and the Brisbane Cup on Stradbroke (Handicap) Day and then she'll have a bit of a break up there."

Cox Plate on Rondinella 's radar

Cambridge trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood were ecstatic with the effort of Rondinella (NZ) (Ocean Park {NZ}) to run fourth in the G1 Sydney Cup (3200m) with a potential G1 Cox Plate tilt on the cards.

“I was proud of her,” James said. “At the beginning of the preparation she was a one-win horse.

“She ran third in the Tancred behind Avilius, who is unbeaten in Sydney, and probably the second pin-up horse behind Winx in Australia. That was again on a bog.

“She has now run fourth in a Group 1 two-mile. She has come a long way in one preparation.

“It’s too early to make any plans, but personally I think she has enough brilliance to be a Cox Plate horse. The Caulfield Cup is certainly one that will be in the mix, but I don’t know about the Melbourne Cup.”


Stallion heading south

Highly Recommended (Fastnet Rock) began his career at Berkley Stud and he will return there for the 2019 season.

He subsequently relocated to Cambridge Stud, but following discussion between the two parties the stallion will relocate to the South Island.

Highly Recommended enjoyed a successful second season in 2017-2018 with the stakes horses Sumstreetsumwhere (NZ) , Waldorf (NZ) , Joyfilly (NZ), Beneficial (NZ), Pipiana (NZ) and Kirkland (NZ) among his leading representatives.

Highly Recommended (Image credit: Trish Dunell)

“Highly Recommended was very well supported in his initial years at stud at Berkley and we are hoping that support will be there when he returns," Cambridge Stud Chief Executive Officer Henry Plumptre said.

“He gets good looking sound stock and has plenty of representation coming through. Cambridge will continue to support him and we look forward to a successful partnership with Berkley and our breeding right owners.”

Highly Recommended will stand at NZ$5,000 plus GST.

Stablemates on target to swap places

The Chosen One (NZ) (Savabeel) will end his Australian campaign on Saturday, while stablemate Bobby Dee (NZ) (Zed {NZ}) will be endeavouring to secure a trip across the Tasman when he competes at Ellerslie the same day.

The Chosen One finished fourth in the G1 Australian Derby and will end his campaign Saturday’s G3 Frank Packer Plate at Randwick.

Meanwhile, on the home front Bobby Dee will make his first appearance since finishing sixth in the G1 New Zealand Derby Derby when he tackles the G2 Valachi Downs Championship S. at Ellerslie.

“Though Bobby Dee hasn’t run since the Derby he’s fit and should go a big race on Saturday,’’ Baker said.

“He’s our horse for the Queensland carnival and if he goes well on Saturday he’ll head over for the Queensland Derby.”

Strong incentives for graduates

Two additional races have been added to the racing calendar at Yulong Jockey Club exclusively for New Zealand Bloodstock graduates, highlighting the growing relationship between China and New Zealand.

New Zealand Bloodstock graduates will this year race for total stakes of 1.1 million yuan (NZ$242,000) and bloodstock advisor Alex Teng, who has played a key role in developing the burgeoning thoroughbred relationship between the two countries, is pleased with the addition of the two races.

“The first additional race will be on June 1, which is called the Karaka Silver Fern Stakes Challenge,” Teng said. “The owners pay the nomination fee, which creates the pool of money for the race.

“This race is limited to 2-year-old Karaka graduates and will be run over 1000 metres. The owners from Yulong buy the horses from Karaka and they support this race.

“We have 10 horses nominated for this race and they will compete for 300,000 yuan (NZ$66,000). It will be a big race day for New Zealand horses.”

The second race on July 13 will again be restricted to 2-year-old Karaka graduates, but local company Zhongli Group has thrown their support behind the race by offering 100,000 yuan (NZ$22,000) in sponsorship.

“The other race is on July 13 and this is very similar to the Silver Fern Stakes, but there is also sponsorship from a local company called Zhongli Group,” Teng said.