Mufhasa meeting his fans at Legends Day 2023  Photo: Selena Wright

Kiwi stars of young and old on show at Legends Day

Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk
8 February 2024

Kiwi superstars of young and old will be celebrated on Legends Day, held this Saturday at Te Rapa.

While several of the country’s top gallopers will be chasing glory in a pair of Group One features, many of our former stars of the track will be showcased through the card, leading out the field in all nine events.

The remarkable group of legendary performers of the turf include Seachange and Mufhasa, who share 17 Group One titles between them, while Xcellent earned four of his own, alongside a third placing behind Makybe Diva in the 2005 Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).

Bostonian earned a pair of Australian Group Ones in a successful trans-Tasman career, while fellow former Tony Pike-trained talent Sacred Star claimed the 2015 edition of the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) and Gr.1 BCD Group (then NRM) Sprint (1200m), which features on Legends Day.

Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Ping Hai Star and dual Hong Kong Horse of the Year Werther will make their second appearance on Legends Day leading out the field for Race 1 and 2, while former Te Akau cult-hero and multiple Group One winner Gingernuts will do the honours in the David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic.

Fittingly, popular warhorse Sir Slick will lead out the field in the Herbie Dyke Stakes, his career highlighted by six Group One crowns, including the 2007 Herbie Dyke (then International Stakes).

Aiming to create a legacy of their own, two exciting fields will assemble for the headliners on the nine-race card - Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) and the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint.

The Herbie Dyke Stakes is the time-honoured centrepiece event on Legends Day, with the middle-distance feature boasting a newly instated stake of $600,000 fit for a talented line-up of Group One performers. This year’s edition is also part of the Summer Middle Distance Series bonus, whereby the highest point-scorer will earn the lion’s share of the $500,000 on offer.

Glamour mare Legarto, though finishing second last-start in the $1 million Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic (1600m), brings outstanding sprinter-miler form into her first 2000m test, and will jump from the enviable ace draw on Saturday. However, she will have anything but an easy task on her hands, with an array of competitive chances including defending champion Sharp ‘N’ Smart, Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2050m) victor Campionessa, and exciting Taranaki raider One Bold Cat all vying for top honours.

The Te Rapa crowd are in for a treat with the BCD Group Sprint set to jump just two races later. Unbeaten three-year-old Crocetti will face the biggest test of his career when stepping up to weight-for-age for the first time and will come up against some top-class older rivals, including last start Gr.1 Railway (1200m) winner Waitak and talented stablemate Dragon Leap, ever-consistent bridesmaid Bonny Lass, and Cambridge Stud gelding Habana.

The meeting will also play host to the Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (2000m), with class fillies Mary Shan and Molly Bloom set to go head-to-head among an impressive line-up of fillies.

Andrew Forsman’s Mary Shan will seek to get the better of Wexford’s Molly Bloom at their middle-distance debut, while About Time arrives with existing top 2000m form, and Sudbina, fresh from a Group Three victory over 1600m. Tulsi, a multiple Group One placegetter, also looks an ominous chance following a huge last-start performance.

The second of the NZTR Innovation Races will further heighten the thoroughbred spectacle on Legends Day, with the Sir Patrick Hogan Karapiro Classic (1600m) offering maideners (as of July 31, 2023) a shot at $350,000 in prizemoney. As anticipated, a quality 14-horse field will chase the lucrative stake, with highly discussed gelding Adam I Am as well as talented three-year-old’s To Catch A Thief, Sinhaman and Vera Rose all accepting.

An interesting runner is the topweight The Odyssey, who, alongside jockey Courtney Barnes, has an opportunity to claim another innovation feature following victory in the The Oaks Stud Remutaka Classic in January.

Off the track, racegoers will be treated to the best of Waikato’s hospitality with The Grand Tour Bar returning to Te Rapa for the final time this season. Waikato Thoroughbred Racing have been generous enough to offer Free General Admission for those just wanting to enjoy a fabulous afternoon of racing action, and access to The Grand Tour Bar and the Flemington Lounge also applies for GA ticket holders, as well as kids entertainment.

Elsewhere on-course, the Kentucky Lounge will be available for WTR members, while the Lodge Lounge has now sold out.

For all information on Legends Day, click here.

The first race is scheduled to jump at 12.25pm, with the Group One features at approximately 3.28pm (Herbie Dyke Stakes) and 4.38pm (BCD Group Sprint).

What: Legends Day

Where: Te Rapa Racecourse, 12 Sir Tristram Avenue, Te Rapa, Hamilton 3200

When: Saturday 10 February

Legends Schedule:

Race 1 - Ping Hai Star
Race 2 - Werther
Race 3 - Sacred Star
Race 4 - Gingernuts
Race 5 - Seachange
Race 6 - Sir Slick
Race 7 - Xcellent
Race 8 - Mufhasa
Race 9 - The Bostonian

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