Willow off to Australia

20:05, Jan 28 2014
LEADING LADIES: Unbeaten filly Willow with her driver and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen.

Willow, who is unbeaten in four starts including the Sires' Stakes Fillies Championship Final, will head to Australia for the New South Wales Oaks, bypassing the Northern Oaks.

Co-trainer Mark Purdon, confirmed the programme yesterday. He said Willow would be accompanied to Sydney by Isaiah. who has the New South Wales Derby as his mission.

There are heats of the Oaks and Derby at Menangle on February 22 as a lead up to the $200,000 finals there on March 2. Purdon said he would probably give Willow a trial before she travels to Australia.

The $125,000 Northern Oaks is two days before the New South Wales Oaks final, ruling out a start in both races.

Willow won the $147,000 Fillies Championship at Alexandra Park at her last start on December 31. Isaiah won the $243,000 Yearling Sales Pace the same day. Willow ran the 2200m (mobile) in 2.39.1, a 1.56.3 mile rate and a national record for a filly or mare.

Willow won by three and a quarter lengths from Raksdeal, who won a heat of the Sires' Stakes (non-totalisator) at Ascot Park on Saturday in track record time for all ages of 2.01.4 for 1700m (mobile), a 1.54.9 rate.


Purdon has Smolda resuming in a free-for-all at Addington on Friday night. Smolda has not raced since finishing second to Christen Me in the Chariots of Fire at Menangle last March. The winner of 14 races including the 2012 New South Wales Derby, Harness Jewels as a 3-year-old and Franklin Cup, Smolda won a workout at Rangiora on Saturday in 2.25.9 for 2000m (mobile).

Christen Me was runner up to Restrepo in the Ballarat Cup on Saturday night, his sixth minor placing in eight starts since he won the Canterbury Classic at Addington in October.

Venus Serena, who ran Smolda to a head in the workout, is in a $175,000 yearling sale race at Addington on Friday night as a lead up to the Northern Oaks.

''She will also race in the Nevele R heat at Addington (February 21) before going to Auckland,'' said Geoff Dunn, her West Melton trainer.

Dunn is very pleased with Tiger Tara, who is unbeaten in five starts this season, including the Sires' Stakes Final at Addington in November at his last start. Tiger Tara, who resumes racing at Addington on Friday night, won a trial at Ashburton last week in 2.59.6 for 2400m (mobile). Tiger Tara has the Northern Derby On March 7 as his immediate mission.

Thebestlove set a New Zealand record for a 3-year-old trotter over 2000m (mobile) at Rangiora yesterday with a time of 2.29. He lowered the mark of 2.29.4 set by ill-fated Paramount Geegee in the Sires' Stakes Final at Rangiora in March, 2011.

Thebestlove, trained by Tim Butt, is unbeaten in two starts. He was bought by Butt for $50,000 at the 2012 premier yearling sale when offered by Christchurch breeder Graham Beirne operating as Small Car World Ltd. Beirne took a share in the Love You - Kathy Galleon gelding after the sale.

Goldplay remained unbeaten in three starts in Australia when she won the $20,000 Golden Guitar Final at Tamworth on Saturday. The 4-year-old Presidential Ball- Real Radical mare was sold to Australia five weeks ago after a win from five starts for the Leithfield Beach stable of Robbie Holmes. Goldplay was bred by Carla Robertson- Holmes and Garry Caunter, of Christchurch.

Elusive Flight, who was claimed at Wyndham when he won on January 14, has his first start for Oamaru owner-trainer Steve Allen at Forbury Park tomorrow night.

Elusive Flight gained two (one on promotion) of his four wins at Forbury Park when trained by Murray Swain.

Allen, who works for Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson, won a race at Forbury Park last May with Xmas In New York after claiming the gelding at Methven seven months earlier.

Xmas In New York has not raced since November after developing soreness. He is due back in work.

Majestic Major, who won at his first start for Jonny Cox and Amber Hoffman at Ascot Park last week, has his next race at Wyndham on Sunday. He is eligible for a harness plus bonus.

The Southland Times