News In Brief
Group Three test next for smart 5YO
Progressive mare Francaletta will take her chance in black type company at Awapuni next Saturday.
Trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman have identified the Gr.3 Boehringer Ingelheim Metric Mile at Awapuni as an ideal opportunity for the daughter of High Chaparral, who was an easy Rating 85 winner when she resumed at Hastings last time out.
“She came through the race well and the only problem we’ve ever had with her is that she feels hard ground,” Forsman said. “Hopefully, she’ll get two or three stakes opportunities before the tracks firm up.”
The winner of five of her six starts, Francaletta has a booking to Savabeel this year, although there is a chance her racing career could yet be extended.
Meanwhile, plans for the dual Group Three winner and Group One placegetter Eleonora, whose Melbourne spring plans were dashed by an untimely injury, have yet to be confirmed.
“We’re not sure just yet, but she may go first-up to the Karaka Classic at Pukekohe,” Forsman said.
Top three-year-old sidelined
Qiji Phoenix, a stakes winning juvenile last season, has suffered an injury and will miss the spring of his three-year-old career.
Unbeaten in three starts in New Zealand for Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs, including a dominant victory in the Listed Champagne Stakes at Ellerslie, Qiji Phoenix was recently transferred to the stable of Champion Sydney trainer Chris Waller.
The son of Not A Single Doubt was set to resume in the Gr.2 Run To The Rose (1200m) won by quality colt Menari, but was found to have a chip in a fetlock late last week.
Ellis recognised at Horse of the Year Awards
Te Akau principal David Ellis was honoured for a lifetime of achievement in racing when receiving the outstanding contribution award at the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Awards at the Langham on Sunday night.
Ellis has made a mark as a thoroughbred buyer, owner, syndicator, breeder, administrator and sponsor.
He has been the driving force behind the name Te Akau becoming a global thoroughbred brand and has established premiership winning stables at both Matamata and Singapore.
He has been the leading buyer at the New Zealand national sale for the past 12 years and over that period alone has bought 369 yearlings, at a cost of $64.5 million.
“I feel very honoured to be recognised in such a manner,” Ellis said. “I love racing and get a huge thrill out of seeing the joy it brings to so many of our owners. There are so many unheralded, hard working people in racing and I have been fortunate to work with a host of quality people along the journey.”
Fourth Group One for son of Iffraaj
Ribchester, a son of Iffraaj who shuttles to Haunui Farm in Karaka, has made light work of his Gr.1 Prix du Moulin rivals to claim his fourth Group One.
Owned by Godolphin, he has now won six of his 14 starts and only finished out of the first three once.
Ribchester will be aimed towards the QEII and possibly the Breeders’ Cup Mile two weeks after that.
Iffraaj has enjoyed a stellar year in both hemispheres, with Derby winners Gingernuts and Jon Snow flying the flag in the southern hemisphere, while his triple Group One winning son Turn Me Loose has retired to Windsor Park Stud.
European Group One placings for Kiwis
New Zealand owned gallopers Torcedor and Eminent filled minor placings in their respective European Group One contests over the weekend.
Torcedor finished second to star stayer Order Of St George in the Irish St Leger.
Purchased by Te Akau’s David Ellis, Torcedor is owned by a trio of Kiwis in Sir Patrick Hogan, Sir Peter Vela and Laurie Laxon, along with Mohammed Moussa.
Meanwhile the Sir Peter Vela-owned Eminent finished third in the Irish Champion Stakes when swamped late by Decorated Knight and Poet's Word after making much of the running under Frankie Dettori.
NZ Bred trifecta in Jumbo Jet Trophy
In Singapore exciting galloper Countofmontecristo scored the sixth win in his seven-start career in Sunday’s Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) at Kranji, leading home a trifecta of New Zealand bred Karaka graduates in the S$200,000 race.
Ridden by Alan Munro for trainer Michael Clements, Countofmontecristo was trapped three-wide in the early part of the race before taking up an uncustomary leading role.
He took control of the race with a powerful kick in the home straight, then withstood the late challenges of Debt Collector and Alibi to win by half a length.
“He’s an absolute superstar,” assistant trainer Michael White said. “It was his first time running at weight-for-age level. It was as good a race you would ever get, and he was also racing against his natural pattern because of his wide barrier.
“He didn’t win the Singapore Guineas, which was not run to suit him, but that’s the past now. We will now set him for the Kranji Mile and the Raffles Cup.”