Sam Collet and Karalino are well clear as they hit the finish line at Riccarton Photo credit: Race Images South
Promising filly Karalino ticked the box for stage one of her current racing mission with a comprehensive victory in the Inglewood Stud Guineas Trial (1400m) at Riccarton on the weekend.
Bred and owned by Valachi Downs Stud principal Kevin Hickman, the Zacinto three-year-old holds a nomination for the Gr.1 gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at the same venue next month.
Still a maiden before Saturday’s contest, the victory came with the added bonus of a guaranteed start in the Guineas which was to the forefront of trainer Stephen Autridge’s thinking leading into the race.
“We’ve known she has had plenty of ability from the first time we trialled her,” Autridge said.
“She hasn’t had a lot of luck in her first few starts where she struck a very wet track at Te Aroha while she was caught wide at Ruakaka last time.
“She needed to get a win to boost her rating points as she was well down the order of entry for the Guineas and wouldn’t have got a start.
“With the ballot exemption available on the race it looked a pretty good option for us.”
Handled confidently by Sam Collett, Karalino proved dominant over her age-group rivals in the closing stages as she registered a four-length victory to set herself up for her 1000 Guineas attempt.
“She ended up doing it pretty easily in the end and was very strong at the line,” Autridge said.
“That was probably the most pleasing aspect of the performance as it tells me she shouldn’t have a problem going the extra 200m of the Guineas.
“She has pulled up really well this morning (Sunday) so the task now will be to find a race for her on the way to the 1000 Guineas as she probably needs to have one more run before then.”
Autridge and Hickman could find themselves in the enviable position of having two genuine chances in the Riccarton feature as they also have Showcasing filly Woodcote Lass in contention for the race.
Successful over 1000m at Riccarton last month to open her current campaign, Woodcote Lass finished third in the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) at her last start with Autridge looking to avoid a clash with Karalino in their final Guineas lead-up runs.
“I don’t want them clash before the Guineas unless they absolutely have to,” he said.
“One of them will probably go to the Barneswood Farm Stakes (Gr.3, 1400m) at Ashburton on the 19th, but which one I’m not too sure about.
“I’ll sit down with Kevin and his team at Valachi this week and work it out with them but it’s exciting for us to have two genuine contenders for such a prestigious race.”
Proud Cantabrian Kevin Hickman could have as many as four runners in the 1000 Guineas, with the John Bary-trained The Tailors Niece and the Stephen Marsh-trained Bronte Beach also on target to sport the prominent gold colours of the owner-breeder in the classic race for fillies.