News In Brief
Telegraph build-up undecided
A decision has yet to be made whether Heroic Valour runs again before the Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham later this month.
The Group One winner missed the Gr.1 Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day due to the slow track conditions.
“He was spot on and it was disappointing when the rain came,” co-trainer Stephen Autridge said. “There’s a race for him in a fortnight’s time, but we’ll have to wait and see whether we run him.”
Stablemate Melody Belle took her place in the Ellerslie feature and finished sixth.
“It was a pretty good run, she was going to run fourth or fifth before she got checked out of it,” Autridge said.
Ellerslie return for in-form mare
Livin’ On A Prayer will return to the scene of her latest triumph in her quest for higher honours.
“She’ll run in the Westbury Classic to try and get some black type for her,” Matamata trainer Wayne Hillis said.
The Group Two event will be run over 1400m on January 27 at Ellerslie where Livin’ On A Prayer won the Dunstan Feeds Championship Final (1500m) on Boxing Day.
Dijon Bleu panning for more gold
Quality Central Districts’-trained three-year-old Dijon Bleu is set to tackle the Gr.3 Wellfield Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) at Trentham later this month.
The multiple stakes winning daughter of Burgundy, who hasn’t finished further back than third in her six appearances this season, has returned from a short spell after her last-start runner-up performance in the Gr.3 Eulogy Stakes (1550m).
“We put her in the paddock for a couple of weeks after the Eulogy,” trainer Lisa Latta said. “She has just come back in on Sunday and she is nice and bright and will head to the Desert Gold.
“She is going well, we have been giving her little freshen-ups after each big race and she seems to be doing well from that.”
Portelli 2YO on trial for Karaka Million
The Gary Portelli-trained Picaro will endeavour to qualify for the Karaka Million (1200m) at Ellerslie on January 27 when he steps out for the first time on raceday in the TAB Handicap (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
“It will all come down to what he does on Saturday,” Portelli said. “He’s a son of Pierro and Louis Mihalyka of Laurel Oak Bloodstock bought him last year.
“He’s always shown ability. We unfortunately had to geld him early as he was just too bully and we couldn’t control him, but we’ve made a racehorse out of him now.”
The gelding ran second in his only trial to date at Rosehill in December.
“I really liked the way he trialed and he shows enough at home to suggest he will be competitive on the weekend.”
A top-two finish would likely see Picaro , who has drawn the outside gate in the field of 12, qualify for the Karaka Million.
Bayliss planning lengthier NZ Stint
Young Australian jockey Jake Bayliss, who rode his first Group One winner on Monday when guiding Volpe Veloce to victory in Ellerslie's Gr.1 Sistema Railway Stakes (1200m), could be tempted to make New Zealand his home for the forseeable future.
The 23-year-old is keen to bolster his CV with a view to eventually securing a contract in Hong Kong, one of the world’s most competitve and lucrative racing jurisdictions.
‘’I was looking forward to staying here until about March or April but things are going very well,” Bayliss told RSN 927.
“I’ve spoken to Mike Moroney and Lance O’Sullivan and I think we might make a goal next season and come over and try and win the premiership,’’ Bayliss said.
‘’I’d love to go to Hong Kong on a contract but obviously you’ve got to win a premiership here to do so.’’
Bayliss has ridden 14 winners in New Zealand so far and is banking on Volpe Veloce giving him another when she tackles the Gr.1 J & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham over 1200 metres on January 20.
If successful there, Australia’s leading sprint race – the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington - will be on the cards for the winner of 10 of her first 13 starts.
‘’I’ve ridden her in a lot of her work and I’ve done quite a few gallops on her and now won on her twice and she’s got as good a turn of foot as any horse in Australia,’’ Bayliss said.
‘’I think she can go over there and be very competitive. I think she’s well and truly up to it.’’