Beyond The Fort (NZ) (Niagara) made only one appearance during the 2018-19 New Zealand Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year Series, but the Group 1 performer made a big impression.
The Waverley filly joined the fray for the final leg of the Series, the $50,000 Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Warstep Stakes (2000m) at Riccarton on Saturday. It was her first start since finishing a gallant second in last month’s $400,000 Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham.
Dropping back down in distance for Saturday’s Warstep, Beyond The Fort sat back in the second half of the field as Sentito (NZ) (Postponed), Guillada (NZ) (Guillotine) and Miss Valencia (NZ) (Ocean Park) showed the way.
Guillada and Miss Valencia went clear in the straight and were joined by Mohaka (NZ) (Nadeem) in what looked like a three-way battle to the finish.
But then Beyond The Fort came flying down the extreme outside, sailing past that trio and powering clear to win by two and a quarter lengths. Mohaka took second, with Miss Valencia third.
Beyond The Fort was ridden by Dylan Turner for trainer Bill Thurlow, who is currently in Sydney with his Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) contender Glory Days (NZ) (Red Giant).
“We were stuck in the Sydney traffic when the race was on at Riccarton,” Thurlow told the NZ Racing Desk.
“Thankfully I had my wife with me, and we managed to watch the race on her phone. The vision wasn’t that great, but the cars around us could probably have heard us cheering as they came down the straight.
“She has the makings of a really good stayer this filly, and she did a great job to win this one. I knew she was probably the best stayer in that line-up and that was how it panned out.
“We had been thinking of the Australasian Oaks (Group 1, 2400m, Morphettville, May 4) for her as long as she comes through this one well. There is also Queensland to consider, but until I get back and see how she is I can’t really say what we will be doing with her.”
Bred and raced by the late Ray Stevens, Beyond The Fort has now had four starts for three wins, a placing and $122,435 in prizemoney.
The Southern Filly Series finishes with a clear winner. Riccarton filly Emily Margaret (NZ) (Pins) won the New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) and NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m), and placed in the NZB Airfreight Stakes (1600m), collecting a total of 18 points.
Beyond The Fort shares second place on the table with the NZB Airfreight Stakes winner Secret Allure (NZ) (Zacinto), who finished sixth in Saturday’s Warstep Stakes.
In other news there were three Karaka graduates in the field for Saturday’s $100,000 Group 3 Coca-Cola Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) at Riccarton, and they finished first, second and third.
The winner was the $44,000 Festival Sale purchase Who Dares Wins (NZ) (Iffraaj), who completed a black-type double for the week. The under-rated gelding had collected the first stakes win of his career in the Listed Easter Cup (1600m) the previous weekend.
Raced by a large and enthusiastic group of owners and trained by Tony and Lyn Prendergast, Who Dares Wins has now had 48 starts for eight wins, 13 placings and $250,963 in stakes – more than five times his purchase price.
Runner-up Residential (NZ) (Pins) was passed in at the 2015 Premier Sale with a $60,000 reserve. Her 38-start career has featured nine wins, nine placings and $280,500 in prizemoney.
Third-placed Dee And Gee (NZ) (Darci Brahma) cost just $16,000 at the 2015 Select Sale and has now earned $189,110.
Who Dares Wins and Residential had finished first and second in last Saturday’s Easter Cup, and it was a repeat result a week later as they took over in the straight from the front-running Dee And Gee.
Residential gave her all both times, but once again it was Who Dares Wins who was better on the day and edged away to win by three-quarters of a length.
“It (the Canterbury Gold Cup) was in the back of our minds after he was beaten on the bob by Saint Emilion (NZ) (Mastercraftsman) last year,” Tony Prendergast told NZ Racing Desk. “It is nice to get some revenge and he deserved this one.
“We only gave him some light trotting and cantering after last week, but he just thrived. Any worries we had were put aside and I think his fitness really showed through in the closing stages.
“He is a far more settled horse this time in and is racing really well because of it. We have changed his gear slightly by replacing the Norton bit we were using with just a conventional one and that has worked well.
“We think there is more in store for him, so if we stay patient, hopefully he can deliver for us.”
Vendor Ardsley Stud Ltd
Purchaser Phill Cataldo Bloodstock (Auckland)
Breeding Iffraaj – Wee Tipple
Sale Lot 1285, 2014 Festival Sale, $44,000
Bred by Mrs R M Laffey & Mrs M A Wallace
Felaar (NZ) (Ekraar), who could have been bought for just $10,000 at the 2015 Festival Sale at Karaka, picked up his first stakes win with a thrilling victory in Saturday’s $75,000 Listed Royston Hospital Hawke’s Bay Cup (2200m) at Hastings.
The gelding had already proven himself at black-type level with placings in the Listed New Zealand St Leger (2500m), Listed Metropolitan Trophy (2500m) and Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m).
Ridden on Saturday by Leith Innes for Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh, Felaar raced in midfield and was travelling ominously smoothly approaching the home turn.
The five-year-old loomed on the outside in the straight, but the front-running Igraine (Galileo) refused to give up without a fight.
Felaar and the Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m) winner threw everything at each other in the last 100 metres, but Felaar came out on top by a half-head. Jacksstar (NZ) (Zed), a last-start winner of the Group 2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m), was a half-length away in third.
“The way he was travelling I thought we would be winning it by two or three lengths when we turned for home,” Innes said.
“To the mare’s credit (Igraine) she really fought back well and made it pretty close. In saying that she is a very good horse, so for him to get up and win is a good achievement.
“He’s still a big baby really and learning all the time, but when he puts it all together, he will be a very good horse.
“I’m not sure what plans they have for him, but to my mind he wouldn’t be out of place over in Brisbane this winter.”
Raced by Marsh in partnership with Leo Molloy and NZB’s Sir Peter Vela, Felaar has now had 19 starts for four wins, nine placings and $177,300 in earnings – more than 13 times his Karaka reserve.
“He really is still learning, so it makes a decision on what we do with him next a little harder,” Marsh said.
“He does look like a good candidate for some of the staying races in Brisbane, but the right thing to do might be to keep him home, keep progressing slowly with him and wait for a serious attack in the spring.
“I’m just not sure at this stage, but the win today will definitely help him up the learning curve.”
Vendor Monovale Farm
Breeding Ekraar – Felt That
Sale Lot 1325, 2015 Festival Sale, Psd (Res $10,000)
Bred by Monovale Holdings Ltd
Saturday’s $50,000 Listed NZB Finance Sprint (1200m) at Hawke's Bay was another highlight in a sensational campaign for Princess Kereru (NZ) (Pins), who was passed in with a $40,000 reserve at the 2015 Select Sale at Karaka.
The Matamata mare began this season as the winner of three of her 16 starts, but since then she has become one of New Zealand’s standout sprinters.
She has added another four wins from nine starts in 2019-20, two of them at stakes level, and she was a close second in the $200,000 Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
Princess Kereru’s black-type breakthrough came in the $100,000 Group 3 Waikato Stud Plate (1200m) at Ellerslie in March, and at Hastings on Saturday she struck again.
After sitting in midfield behind a strong early pace, Princess Kereru rider Cameron Lammas turned her loose in the straight and she burst to the front in the middle of the track.
Endless Drama (Lope de Vega) and Cavallo Veloce (NZ) (O’Reilly) tried to go with her, but Princess Kereru was well clear and scored by a length and a quarter.
Princess Kereru has now had 25 starts for seven wins, eight placings and $253,125 in stakes – more than six times her reserve at Karaka. She is raced by her breeders, K R and R P Humphries, with the PR Partnership.
“She’s gone to another level this year,” co-trainer Ken Kelso said. “If you’d said to me last year she’d be doing this, I might have laughed at you.
“She’s always had the ability, but she’s really strengthened up this season.
“Temperament is a huge thing in this game and she’s got a great temperament – she just eats and sleeps. She’s just a little trooper.”
Te Runga Stud will offer a yearling half-brother to Princess Kereru at the 2019 Karaka May Sale. The colt by Shocking will go through the ring as Lot 156.
Vendor Te Runga Stud
Breeding Pins – Fleur d’Amour
Sale Lot 958, 2015 Select Sale, Psd (Res $40,000)
Bred by K R, M R, P R & R P Humphries