Roger James and Robert Wellwood will have a strong hand to play in Saturday’s age group feature at Pukekohe, with gifted fillies Orchestral (NZ) (Savabeel) and Sudbina (NZ) (Almanzor) to go head-to-head.
The Cambridge trainers are well-served in the three-year-old department and had also nominated the unbeaten December (NZ) (Shamexpress) for the Gr.3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m), but he will be saved for another day.
Orchestral hasn’t raced since she was unplaced in her resuming run in the Gr.3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings, but another break has served the daughter of Savabeel well.
“We’re not sure if it was the firm track and the 1200m that tripped her up that day, so we put her out and she’s grown a bit,” Wellwood said.
“I still think that with a bit more time she will be even better as she goes further. It will be good to see her over 1400m and she’s had a jump-out in preparation, although she will take good improvement.”
The lightly tried Orchestral finished runner-up on debut in the Avondale Classic (1200m) last season behind the highly regarded Just A Floozie (NZ) (I Am Invincible), with the subsequent Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Molly Bloom (NZ) (Ace High) third.
She then broke her maiden five weeks later with a tidy display at Hastings.
“If she were to run well on Saturday she would probably go to the fillies’ race (Gr.2 Hallmark Stud Eight Carat Classic, 1600m) on Boxing Day,” Wellwood said.
“Hopefully, she could then go to the Karaka Million (1600m), but it’s all step-by-step.”
Bred by Barneswood Farm, Orchestral has an impressive pedigree and sold accordingly with James and Wellwood going to $625,000 to secure the Haunui Farm-offered youngster at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale.
The filly is out of the O’Reilly mare Symphonic (NZ), a multiple winner and stakes performer, from the family of the Group One winners Daffodil (NZ) (No Excuse Needed), Aegon (NZ) (Sacred Falls) and Atishu (NZ) (Savabeel).
Almanzor’s daughter Sudbina, co-bred and part-owned by Haunui, was a Taupo winner two runs back before she finished a close sixth in the Gr.2 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m).
“She looks a talented filly and worked nicely earlier this week and she probably has quite of bit of improvement in her as well,” Wellwood said.
“We still need to learn a bit more about her and where we want to be distance wise. She’s a half-sister to Fix so she might not go that much further, we’ll just see what happens and take it from there.”
Meanwhile, December won both of his trials before a successful debut at Tauranga last month and three weeks later kept his perfect record intact with an age group success at Wanganui.
“We’ll wait with him, he’s had a bit thrown at him and it’s only his first prep,” Wellwood said.
“He will run on Boxing Day in the Auckland Guineas (Gr.2, 1400m) and he looks a very good horse. He hasn’t put a foot wrong and he’s still got plenty to learn.
“It will be good to see him up to 1400m and then we’ll make a decision whether we head to the Levin Classic (Gr.1, 1600m) or not.”