Morning Briefing

New Zealand Latest

Sydney off for Jennifer Eccles

New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) winner Jennifer Eccles (Rip Van Winkle) will not make the trip to Sydney to contest the upcoming spring features, but trainer Shaun Ritchie indicated he may still target the Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m) after looking to races closer to home. “We have elected not to campaign Jennifer Eccles in Sydney,” Ritchie told the NZ Racing Desk. “We would need to get into Victoria, which is not open anyway. We have got a lot of options in front of us with the likes of the Cox Plate or the Mackinnon (Stakes) and felt that a hit-and-run with the mare in Australia might be better than just campaigning.”


Catalyst pleases in trial

New Zealand 2000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) Catalyst (Darci Brahma) warmed up for his Sydney campaign in good order after winning an 1100-metre trial at Taupo yesterday. Trainer Clayton Chipperfield was encouraged by the run, and said there was more to come from the four-year-old. “To see him bounce out of the gates like that and put himself right there was quite encouraging going forward with the Australian plans,” he said. Catalyst will link up with the Tony Pike team in Sydney and Chipperfield still has his eyes on a berth in The Everest (1200m) in October. “At this stage he is due to fly out on the 14th of September and his first start will be the 19th (in The Shorts),” added Chipperfield.


Richards pleased with star triallers

Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards was pleased with what he saw from his contingent of trialists at Taupo yesterday, where multiple Group 1 winner Avantage (Fastnet Rock) took 1100-metre trial. “She is coming up really nicely,” said Richards. “She is a good mare. Opie was really pleased with how she felt and she is on track to head to the Foxbridge and then the first couple of legs at Hastings.” Scott Base (Dalghar), who finished fourth in the trial, will also follow the same route, while in an earlier trial Richards was pleased by Group 1 performers In A Twinkling (Fastnet Rock) and Prise De Fer (Savabeel). “I thought In A Twinkling trialled really nicely,” he said. “He is a horse who has had a few little problems. He seems to have come back well. He will trial again and then we will find a suitable race to kick him off in and hopefully end up in the 2000 metres race at Hastings on the last day.” On Prise de Fer, he added: “Prise De Fer also trialled well. If anything he looks like he might be a little more settled this year.” Cambridge Stud-owned Vernazza (More Than Ready) will be Sydney bound after her hit-out on Wednesday. “She will trial the week after that on the 25th (of August) and all going well she will follow a similar path to what Probabeel did last spring. Two runs into the Flight Stakes, all going well.”


Regional roadshows postponed

Following a return to alert level 2 and 3 restrictions, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing has decided to postpone the regional roadshows scheduled in the South Island this week. The situation will be monitored, with a decision on the meetings due to be held in North Island from August 24 to be made at a later date. “While we understand that stakeholders and participants may find this disappointing our focus currently must remain on doing everything we can to ensure race meetings, trials and training can continue,” NZTR said in a statement. 


Meetings to be run behind closed doors

Following a meeting between NZTR, stewards and club representatives it has been decided that Wednesday’s meeting at Taupo and Friday’s at Waverley will be closed-door events. While gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted under alert level 2, the short lead in time to allow for preparations led to the decision to return to closed-door meetings to protect industry participants. Contact tracing, temperature checks, social distancing and encouraging the liberal use of hand sanitizer will also be reintroduced at these meetings. NZTR stated: “At this stage we have made the decision, following discussion with stewards and club representatives, to hold today’s Taupo meeting and Friday’s Waverley meeting behind closed doors.”