Matamata win justifies big offers

Matamata win justifies big offers

Ardmore Lodge trainer Nick Bishara has fielded some big offers for talented Zed filly Verry Ellegant and they were justified on Wednesday with an easy win in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1400m) at Matamata.

Bishara was receiving offers as late as last night, but a sale has yet to go through, so he has mapped out a spring campaign for his stable star if she remains in his care.

“She was pretty green and scrubbed along, but once she gets into the open she just goes bang,” Bishara said.

“She really pinned her ears back from about the 300m and you can just see that acceleration.

“There’s been a lot of pressure and we didn’t have an ideal prep coming in. She sold and the money never arrived.

“She had a couple of days in the paddock and then we had her back trying to get ready for a race. Then we had offers coming in overnight wanting us to scratch this morning and nothing came of it, so it’s really nerve racking.

“We have a plan to get her to the Hawke’s Bay Guineas, maybe the Sarten and then the 1000 Guineas. So, I’ll just have to do what’s best for the horse and our owners.”

Guineas call after Saturday

Promising O’Reilly three-year-old Brutal currently heads the market for the Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) next month, but he could be withdrawn from the race if he fails to flatter in the Listed Exford Plate (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday.

The Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes-trained colt, who is undefeated in two career starts to date, could instead be kept for the Gr.1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington in November if his connections believe he is better suited to the sprint distance.

“I’d think a lot of people would have thought we’d run him in the Danehill (Stakes) over 1200m but we want to see if he runs 1400m because that shapes the rest of our spring and it shapes the autumn,” Wayne Hawkes told

“I think he’ll run the 1400m no problems but you might look at him and think he’s a dead-set pure sprinter and if that is what he is then that won’t be such a minus because in this day and age everybody wants speed, speed, speed.

“After the races on Saturday, knowing whether he runs the 1400m or not is going to be a big telling point to us.

“We’ve got plenty of options but he’s got to tell us where he’s going on Saturday. Where he wants to go. We’ll let him do the talking.”

Brutal was purchased by his trainers out of Mapperley Stud’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale draft for $220,000.

The Sardine is flying

The Kelvin Tyler-trained Flying Sardine impressed with her fresh-up win in the Christchurch Casino Open Handicap (1600m) at Riccarton on Saturday, in what was an oddly run race.

Early speed split the six horse field into two pods of three for the majority of the race. Flying Sardine sat on the back of the first group and got the better of her rivals in the straight, winning by a length over Who Dares Wins.

“It was quite unusual,” Tyler said. “Quite often in these small fields they are pretty hard races to predict what is going to happen.

“There was a bit of speed on upfront and those back ones just sat up and watched her. It was a good effort and she is a really tough horse and a real professional, probably the most professional horse I have ever had.

“She knows exactly what she is there for and what she is meant to do.”

Owner-trainer Tyler is now eyeing more black-type with the nine-win mare later this spring after she placed in the Gr.3 South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) earlier this year.

“She’s pulled up really well since Saturday,” he said. “I’m not too sure what to do with her. I’m half-pie tempted to take her up north for some nice races up there, some fillies and mares races at Hawera and a couple of weeks later there is a nice race at Trentham.

“But it is a long way to go, so I’ll probably keep her a little bit fresh and wait around for the New Zealand Cup meeting probably. She’s nominated for the Coupland’s Mile (Gr.2, 1600m), but there is also another really nice race on the same day, the Valachi Downs Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.3, 1400m).”