Cambridge Jockey Club Meeting
Waikato RC @ Te Rapa
Waikato RC @ Te Rapa
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Qiji Phoenix carried forward his solid trial form with a searching run be successful on his debut in the $10,000 Become A Waikato Racing Club Member 1200 (Mdn 2yo) over 1200 metres at Te Rapa yesterday.
The Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs-trained colt was having his first start and was sent out 6/1 by punters on the strengths of a recent trial win over recently stakes-placed Hanger a fortnight ago.
With in-form rider Jason Waddell aboard, the pair settled beyond midfield, moved forward at the 600m mark to be handy to challenge at the the turn, and finished strongly to beat Cousteau (O.Bosson) by a long head, with more than four-lengths to Fashion Sense (D.Johnson) in third.
Qiji Phoenix winning time was 1:11.17 (last 600m in 34.57) on
a Good3 track.
"His trial form was very strong, but I thought the awkward draw, it would be difficult to overcome today. Jason (Waddell) did very well and used the horse early to find a nice position. We knew he had a turn of foot but to pick up that second horse I thought was a really good effort," co-trainer Chris Gibbs said.
"He's a very laid-back individual which is going to help him immensely. He's got a beautiful nature for a colt. We'll see how he comes through it, but to be fair we've always thought he'd be a better 1400m horse, so we're going to have to start looking at a race like the Group One Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes at Awapuni on April 1," Gibbs said.
Chinese businessman Fudong Niu purchased the Australian-bred son of Not A Single Doubt for $75,000 at the 2016 Select Sale from Pheonix Park draft.
Even money favourite Cote D'Or didn't let her backers down when she recorded a stylish win in the $10,000 Hooves, Grooves & BBQ - 18th March 2017 (Rating 75) over 1600 metres yesterday.
The daughter of Makfi was sent out hot favourite after recording two wins from her last three starts, and finished a creditable seventh on Karaka Million Twilight meeting last month beaten by favourable runners in this weekend's New Zealand Derby.
Slow away from the start, rider Danielle Johnson settled the four-year-old mare at the rear but travelled up to the leaders approaching the bend. With five runners across the track at the 200m mark, Cote D'Or skipped an advantage soon afterwards and held her edge over her opponents to score by short neck over Swinging Skirts (M.Du Plessis) finishing strongly late in second, with three and one quarters of a length to El Disparo (V. Colgan) in third.
Cote D'Or winning time was 1:36.82 (last 600m in 34.04) on a Good3 track.
Bred and raced by Sir Peter Vela, Cote D'Or is out of Our Echezeaux (Zabeel), the dam of stakes winners Dolmabache ( (Redoute's Choice) and Pure Elegance (Redoute's Choice). She is also a three-quarter sister to Romanee Conti (Sir Tristram), a multiple stakes winner and the dam of Caulfield and Melbourne Cup heroine Ethereal (Rhythm).
The win was Cote D'Or's third from nine career starts. She has also recorded three placings and has earned just under $20,000 in prizemoney.
Brad Childs has been appointed as the new Course Manager for the Waikato Racing Club (WRC), based at the Te Rapa race course in Hamilton.
Childs is presently the Track Manager at the Awapuni race course in Palmerston North.
Childs takes over from Neil Treweek who is retiring after 23 years at the WRC.
Ken Rutherford, General Manager of the WRC, paid tribute to Treweek and welcomed the appointment of Childs:"Neil has given 23 years of loyal, dedicated service to the WRC. The track has consistently rated highly and Neil's presence at Te Rapa has been integral in maintaining the quality of our racing surface.Brad is a young, up-and-coming race course manager who impressed with his knowledge and enthusiasm for the role.
The WRC is confident the choice of Brad is a good one and we look forward to welcoming Brad and his family to the Waikato".Brad Childs was equally upbeat:"I am really excited at the prospect of joining the WRC team. The Club is forward thinking and it will be good to part of such a progressive club. Neil has left an impressive legacy and I hope to continue his great work".
Childs will begin his new duties at Te Rapa in June.
Owner-trainer John Morell is hoping patience will be rewarded with his unbeaten filly Florence Jean in Saturday's Gr. 2 J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders' Stakes.
The Pins filly, named after Morell's late mother, made a big impression when she won by four and a half lengths on debut at Ruakaka on January 6. She was eligible for the Karaka Million, having been bought by Morell for $22,000 at the Festival Sale, but the popular Taupiri farmer decided not to push her into the dash for cash.
"It wouldn't have been right to push her to get there," he said. "We've had some trouble with her shins, and then her win at Ruakaka didn't earn her enough money to make the field and she would have had to race again. There was a race at Tauranga that was an option, but it was only nine days before the race. It was just too close, too much to ask.
"Maybe we'll go back next year with a shot at the million-dollar three-year-old race, provided she runs 1600 metres, but in the meantime the Matamata Breeders' Stakes will do us. That would be a great race to win. We're hoping she gets a good draw, runs out the 1200 metres and does her best."
Florence Jean had a three-week spell following her 1000-metre victory at Ruakaka. Morell is satisfied with how she looks heading into Saturday, but says her trackwork provides no real guide.
"She's a very ordinary worker, so it's hard to get much of a line on her from that," he said. "But I think she's doing alright. She's eating good and looking well. You just don't know how they're going to go in a race like this until it happens, it's all trial and error, but I think she's in good order.
"I've taken her to Cambridge a few times, where she's been a bit naughty around the other horses, but I think it's been a good experience for her."
Florence Jean preceded her Ruakaka debut win with a trial victory at Te Aroha, another right-handed track. Saturday's $100,000 fillies' feature will be her first competitive run in the other direction.
"I think she'll be okay that way around," Morell said. "She hadn't done a lot right-handed before her trial and win and she handled that really well. Most of her work is the left-handed way and she should be used to it.
"As long as she gets a good draw and sees out the 1200 metres we'll be happy. It will be a good field but hopefully she'll be competitive."
The Gr. 2 Matamata Breeders' Stakes is the next target for impressive debut winner Florence Jean.
"I gave her about three weeks off after Ruakaka. The short spell has been good for her, she looks a million dollars," Taupiri owner-trainer John Morell said.
"She didn't miss much work and we swam her a few times. She's quiet at home, but she can be a bit stroppy especially when there are a lot of horses around.
"She likes working at Te Rapa where it's quiet, but she can be a little madam when we go to Cambridge where it's a busy training centre.
"I put the blinkers on at Ruakaka, but not for her work, though it looks like we might have to keep them on for Matamata."
Morell said Florence Jean warranted her place in the Breeders' Stakes, to be run on Saturday week.
"It's a step up, but she deserves a crack at black type. You have to give them a shot.
"The extra distance should not be a problem and she works left-handed at Te Rapa, so Matamata should be okay too. But having said that, I think she prefers the right-handed way of going.
"I'm hoping for a little easing of the track. The Dead4 track at Ruakaka was perfect, plus it was race one, so we had first go there."
Morell was also keen on purchasing Florence Jean's younger brother, offered during the recent Select Yearling Sale.
"I didn't go to the sale, but I did have a friend take a look and we went to $60,000 for him," Morell said.
The Pins colt was knocked down to the O'Sullivan family's Wexford Stables for $100,000.