Hastings trainer John Bary has made no secret of his big opinion of 3-year-old filly Miss Selby, and she showed that promise in the Eulogy Stakes at Awapuni on Saturday.
She may have come out second best, but she and winner Whistling Dixie drew away from the rest of the field and fought a desperate battle to the line. Miss Selby was denied victory by a long head, with third-placed Zaperb three lengths behind.
Zaperb had led throughout at the top of the straight had the field in deep trouble. But then Whistling Dixie and Miss Selby surged, racing past a brave Zaperb and waging a two-horse war to the line. Miss Selby lost little in defeat, proving that she belongs in the elite three-year-old filly company.
Miss Selby, a daughter of top sire O'Reilly and stakes-winning mare Singing Star, whose career highlight came with victory over Derby winner St Reims in the 2004 Waikato Gold Cup - the 2013 renewal of which was also run on Saturday. But, if her performances so far are anything to go by, Miss Selby could far exceed the feats of her well-performed mother.
Having run second on debut at Taupo behind a filly called Spellbinder - who has since won the Soliloquy Stakes and been placed in the Sarten Memorial and 1000 Guineas - she's hardly put a foot wrong, placing again at her second start before winning impressively at Awapuni three weeks ago. And Saturday's stakes placing was the best of all. Miss Selby is likely to be aimed towards the New Zealand Oaks, and she is also nominated for the New Zealand Derby - a race Bary won in 2011 with Jimmy Choux.
At Te Rapa, this year's Wairoa Cup winner, Guns At Five, continued his strong spring form with a commendable third to the classy More Than Sacred in the Waikato Gold Cup. Since his Wairoa win in February, Guns At Five has won the Nathans Memorial at Ellerslie and the Rotorua Plate, and had with placings in the Feilding Gold Cup, New Zealand Cup and now the Waikato Gold Cup. And the latter took his career earnings past $200,000.
In other racing news, Bounding, whose Gold Trail Stakes win in September was one of the outstanding performances of the Hawke's Bay Spring Carnival, is set to resume in the Group 1 Railway at Ellerslie on New Year's Day. Unbeaten through the spring until her unlucky defeat in the 1000 Guineas last month, Bounding is stepping back down in distance from the mile to 1200m for the time-honoured feature. One of her Railway rivals is expected to be Hawke's Bay sprinter The Hombre, out to go one better than his 2012 second-place finish to Atomic Force in the first Group 1 race of the new year.