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Family affair for Te Akau duo

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Matamata trainer Jamie Richards is hoping it will be a successful weekend on both sides of the Tasman for his runners and he is particularly looking forward to watching the performances of two close relations.

Group One-winning filly Avantage will contest the Gr.2 Arrowfield 3YO Sprint (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday, while three-quarter sister Puysegur will aim to keep her unbeaten record intact in the Farmlands 2YO (1300m) at Hastings the same day.

"Avantage had a nice walk at the beach this morning and she’s ready to run well on Saturday," Richards said. "The ground should be dead, so everything will get their chance.

"Drawn barrier five, she’s equal favourite in a race with a lot of depth. There’s quite a few three-year-olds dropping back from the weight-for-age sprints.

"Zousain is coming out of the Newmarket, Encryption out of the Newmarket, the William Reid, and the Galaxy. There’s a progressive horse in there of Kris Lee’s, Classique Legend. It’s a strong field, but we’re looking forward to the challenge. We’ll be giving it our best shot.

"I quite like Puysegur at Hastings. She’s a good type, well related, and the only winner in the field.

"We’re hoping it’s a big day for the family."

Richards also rates Pinultimate and Quattro Kate ahead of their Te Rapa assignments on Sunday.

"Quattro Katie has made good improvement and grown in confidence since her win at Matamata. She has to step up in grade, but has drawn nicely," he said.

"Pinultimate should go well in the three-year-old race. It’s a strong field, but she’s two from two and she trialled well at Avondale."

Shillelagh to tackle Winx in Queen Elizabeth

Group One-winning mare Shillelagh will attempt to upset the farewell party of her stablemate Winx when she contests the Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday.

The daughter of Savabeel is backing up from her fifth-placing in the Gr.1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) last Saturday and trainer Chris Waller believes she will appreciate better track conditions this weekend.

"She is backing up after a tough performance in the Doncaster where she certainly wasn’t suited by the track, so to run as close as she did certainly would suggest that she is in good form," he said.

"The likelihood of a better track on Saturday is going to be a big plus for her.

"The 2000m distance won’t be a problem and she was brave in defeat when narrowly beaten in the Australian Cup (Gr.1, 2000m) over this trip earlier this preparation."

Strong Rotorua win for Valachi juvenile

The Stephen Autridge-trained Woodcote Lass could be set to tackle black-type company in the near future after her gutsy maiden victory at Arawa Park on Friday.

The daughter of Showcasing jumped well from barrier four in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1230m) and raced three-wide throughout for Samantha Collett.

The Kevin Hickman-owned two-year-old filly showed her fortitude to battle on stoutly on the outside of the track to win by 1-1/4 lengths over Quick thinker, with Shibuya Kosaten a further 5-1/2 lengths back in third.

"She does show a fair bit," Autridge said. "We did have some concerns of whether she would handle the track (Slow9). She drew four, kept a bit wide and ended up in the best place.

"At the 600m there were a few behind us that looked like they were coming into it, but they were doing overtime in the bad ground and we were out in the better ground going well.

"She has always shown plenty and it’s good to have a horse who can handle a bit of cut in the ground."

Autridge said he may now set his exciting juvenile some black-type targets in the near future.

"There are a couple of nice Listed races coming up, but they will be heavier tracks."

Jockey Sam Collett shared Autridge’s concerns about the track conditions heading into the race, but took some confidence out of her trial win on the track last month.

"I was a little bit unsure how she would handle the track conditions. After her last start I told Stephen I wasn’t sure if she would handle a slow track," she said.

"She obviously won a trial here, so she knew her way around alright. She is professional and tough."

Woodcote Lass became the 12th individual two-year-old winner for former Haunui Farm shuttle stallion Showcasing.

Marsh bullish on stayer

Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh is bullish about the prospects of talented stayer Felaar in Saturday’s Listed Royston Hospital Hawke's Bay Cup (2200m).

The consistent five-year-old finished second to Artiste last start over 2100m at Tauranga and will carry the 53kg minimum on Saturday in a field headed by 96-rater Dolcetto, who will have to lump 60kgs.

"I’m really big on Felaar," Marsh said.

"He’s got blinkers on for the first time and has drawn nicely and at the weights, with 53kgs, I think he is a massive chance."

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