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Karaka vendors watching action on both sides of the Tasman with interest

Steve Moran | 20.01.2018

Top class mare Volpe Veloce headlines Australasian racing action tomorrow when she chases a third straight win in the Telegraph Handicap at Trentham.

The Australian-bred but yearling Karaka-sold four-year-old, by Foxwedge, looks eminently backable at $4 given that she’s unbeaten in seven starts on good to dead ground up to 1600 metres.

She’ll be ridden, of course, by Aussie Jake Bayliss, who went to New Zealand on the recommendation of trainer Mike Moroney, whose former training partner Graham Richardson prepares the mare in partnership with Gavin Parker, who joined the Richardson team early last year.

Richardson selected the Foxwedge filly, bred by Nick and Amy Vass, at the 2015 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale, paying NZ$240,000 – after she had earlier been offered by Newgate Farm at the 2014 Magic Millions National Weanling Sale, where she was knocked down to Lyndhurst Farm for $120,000.

The focus is very much on New Zealand right now, with today’s big Wellington Racing Club meeting and Karaka 2018 getting underway tomorrow week.

Tavistock brothers to well-fancied Trentham feature races runners Hiflyer and Milseain are Book One catalogued next week, along with a half-brother to Dijon Bleu by Proisir.

However, there will also be considerable vendor interest at Flemington where Sukoot, Manolo Blahniq, Tan Tat Trusting and Shenandoah could potentially enhance the value of their siblings being offered at Karaka.

Nonetheless, it is the race sponsored by rival sales house Inglis which is the highlight at Flemington. The Inglis Dash, a $250,000 race at 1100 metres for Inglis race series qualified horses only, features the most spruiked horse of the moment in Nature Strip, who was passed in at $90,000 (reserve $120,000) at the 2016 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale before being sold for $100,000.

His past two wins, each by five and a half lengths in fast time, have stamped him – as a gelding – as a very likely target for Hong Kong buyers and/or a major sprint race contender at home.

Tomorrow, he races beyond 1000 metres for the first time and down the Flemington straight course for the first time. Could he be vulnerable?

Jockey Ryan Maloney doesn’t think so, saying: “He didn’t beat much (at Sandown), but times don’t lie, and we all saw how easily he won the race.”

He had 5.7 lengths to spare at Sandown from third placed Streets Of Avalon who, at his previous start, had run Saturday contender Onehundred Percent to just on a half length.

The most intriguing rival to Nature Strip is See Me Exceed, the Sebring filly who was knocked down to Seamus Mills for $105,000 at 2016 Inglis Easter. There’s little doubt she should have won the Boxing day race at Caulfield which One Hundred Percent did claim.

At $10, I simply won’t be able to resist having something on See Me Exceed who, like Nature Strip, just might be exceptional. I will be prepared to lose but be betting nonetheless.

On a tough day at headquarters, there are limited betting options but a lack of pressure in the staying race (Doriemus Handicap) should play into the hands of Goodwood Zodiac, who is also advantaged by the likely firm ground and the weight relief. Eaton is way over the odds in the same race for similar reasons.

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