Racing: Visitor made most of her opportunity

By James Graham

Blood Brotha scooted away from his rivals in the NZ Cup at Riccarton on Saturday.  Photo / Getty Images
Blood Brotha scooted away from his rivals in the NZ Cup at Riccarton on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images

It would be easy to write off Zennista's narrow group three win in the Stella Artois Tauranga Stakes on Saturday as circumstantial.

Hot-pot runner-up Veyron lost crucial lengths at the start and group one champ Mufhasa is never as lethal on rain-affected ground, or racing the right-hand way round.

But Zennista's Awapuni trainer Lisa Latta said yesterday that she believes the best is yet to come for her unsung five-year-old mare who notched her sixth win from a bumpy 26-start career.

She'll get her next chance to boost her already considerable stud value in the weight-for-age Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on December 8. It's a track she loves and Latta is dodging handicaps now she's at a tough position in the weights.

But it's when Zennista gets back up over 2000m and beyond that Latta believes you'll really start to see her group one worth again.

Don't forget this is a mare who ran a gutsy second to Midnight Oil in the 2011 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) before a bleeding issue. "I think she'll pick up a big one, I really do," said Latta. "All she needs is better tracks and more ground.

"She's been a mare with a few problems and it's taken us a while to work her out but we've finally found the key.

"She doesn't gallop a lot - hardly at all - but she's best when she's kept in work."

Safely through her Trentham assignment, Latta said she'll set the Zenno Rob Roy mare for the summer's rich 2000m weight-for-age circuit, including the Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

Meanwhile, three-year-old Touch Win also confirmed a next-up richer assignment with victory for Andrew Calder at Tauranga.

Cambridge trainer Roger James said the three-race winner will now back up in the group one Levin Classic (1600m) on November 30.

Touch Win's only defeat came behind Sacred Falls when fifth in the group two Hawke's Bay Guineas.

But he draw an outside alley that day and was forced to cover a ton of extra ground.

James is confident the mile will now suit perfectly for the highly rated Excellent Art gelding. Touch Win proved he was well above average to seal the Otaki follow-up.

He jumped from the outside gate, lumped 59kg and was trapped three wide on rain-affected ground.

The other Tauranga highlight was Joey Massino's comeback success in the Gartshore Construction Handicap in his second start after a long break.

The 2009 Avondale Guineas winner underwent surgery to remove a bone chip as a three-year-old and then suffered a tendon injury.

His camp had considered a stud career but when there were no takers he was gelded and returned to the track for Matamata trainers Peter and Jacob McKay.

Meanwhile, at Riccarton, Central Districts jockey Lisa Allpress had a milestone to celebrate on Saturday after partnering Blood Brotha to an emphatic win in the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup.

Although it was Blood Brotha's second straight success in the race for trainer Raymond Connors, last season's premiership winning rider had yet to salute aboard a feature 3200m winner.

Allpress opted to partner seventh-placed Fast Love in 2011 after combining with Blood Brotha to run sixth in the 2010 event.

She gave nothing else a look-in with Blood Brotha's luxury 53kg on Saturday, half a kilo less than the 7-year-old carried to victory on a heavy track last season.

Connors is now likely to set Blood Brotha on a similar summer cups' path, culminating again in a tilt at the Auckland Cup (3200m) in March.

- NZ Herald

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