High flying expectations
Locals won’t have it all their own way in Breeders’ Stakes. Dennis Ryan reports
LOCAL trainers have a fantastic record in the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes but that’s not to say they won’t face a serious challenge from the visiting contingent.
Since the Jim Gibbs-trained Tudor Sky became the first home track winner of Matamata’s flagship race in 1981 another 16 have taken the honours.
Underlining that statistic, the locals have won the last five editions of the two-year-old filly feature.
But when the field for the 2011 J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes heads to the start on Saturday week, it is anticipated that it will include the country’s highest rated juvenile filly, Cambridge-trained Anabandana and the highly regarded Foxton filly O’Ceirins Magic.
The Breeders’ Stakes was earmarked for Anabandana by her trainer Don Sellwood and her owner, Hamilton supermarket operator Chris Grace, following her nose win in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day. That was the Australian-bred filly’s first win but only bad luck had prevented her from breaking maiden status when second and third in her two previous starts.
‘‘She deserved that Ellerslie win and the Breeders’ Stakes seems the logical race to go for next,’’ her trainer said. ‘‘You’ve always got to respect the locals when you race at Matamata but I’m confident my filly can give it a good shake.’’
Foxton trainer Sandie Cookson has the evidence of just one public appearance to say her filly O’Ceirins Magic deserves her place in the Breeders’ Stakes field. But anyone who saw that Tauherenikau win on Waitangi Day would have to agree, after O’Ceirins Magic blew the start, met traffic problems when trying to improve yet still managed to grab an unlikely win in the last two bounds.
‘‘She had looked pretty smart at home and we were hopeful going into the Tauherenikau race but we had to think again after seeing what she had to overcome and still win,’’ Sandie said. ‘‘I don’t think we’re being too cheeky taking on the good fillies up north.’’
Sandie will be returning to familiar territory when she heads to Matamata, having trained from a base at Te Aroha a decade or two back when her surname was Colquhoun.
Horses she trained then included the classy galloper Lord Tridan, who won his first four starts in the 1989/1990 season before he was transferred to the Mike Moroney stable.
Challenger: One visitor that everyone will have their eyes on at the 2011 J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes will be Cambridge-trained Anabandana.