Racing: Zurella well weighted

By Mike Dillon

Miss Pelear, already a winner at Ellerslie, is an each-way hope in the Easter Hcp tomorrow.Picture / Sarah Ivey
Miss Pelear, already a winner at Ellerslie, is an each-way hope in the Easter Hcp tomorrow.Picture / Sarah Ivey

Rival trainers Lance Noble and Shaune Ritchie have differing views of their horses going into tomorrow's $200,000 Manco Easter Handicap at Ellerslie.

Not in terms of ability, but the weights Brave Centaur and Zurella are asked to carry.

Because of the 2kg fillies' and mares' allowance in New Zealand - which does not enjoy blanket approval - Zurella will carry 57.5kg in the group one feature and Brave Centaur topweight of 59kg.

The difference is that Zurella has earnings of $411,000 and Brave Centaur just $109,000.

"I can't believe the justice of that," said a frustrated Lance Noble.

"I know weights are all relative to the horses around you, but Zurella has been running in group races all the way through and my bloke hasn't raced in a stakes race, even though he's won his last four straight."

Noble said if he owned Brave Centaur he'd seriously consider not running and taking the horse to Australia instead. "We're all lucky the horse has sporting owners. I gave them the option to scratch, but they said to let him run.

"When I was coming up with Jim Gibbs and Dave O'Sullivan you were taught to race your horses through the grades and not to jump up quickly.

"That's what we've done with this horse - I'm not sure what I'm supposed to have done."

Zurella is coming off the group one Coolmore in Sydney, in which she was fourth, beaten less than one length. "That's good form for a race like this," said Shaune Ritchie.

"I like the No 6 barrier draw, I think that gives Matt [Cameron] quite a few options. If there is a negative it's that she's a natural 2000m horse and she's at 1600m third-up. However, she's freshened up nicely and I'm very happy with her."

Lance Noble is much happier with his second runner, Viadana, whose form on paper looks mixed, but who has had little luck in a few races.

"She had a slight hamstring pain after she ran second at Tauranga, which is why she missed running at Te Aroha last week.

"I'm very happy with her."

The under-rated Miss Pelear and top-grade newcomers Tyne Cot and Neo will have their followers.

As a back runner, Miss Pelear gets herself into all manner of trouble, but she can really finish off.

Tyne Cot has unlimited potential. He won despite difficulties in his first right-handed start at Ellerslie two starts back then ran out of racing room at Awapuni last start. He cannot be underrated.

It is going to be a busy couple of days for Ritchie with his good-quality mare Artistic having a golden opportunity to return to winning ways at Awapuni today and boost her travelling fund for Queensland.

The Darci Brahma mare hasn't won a race since beating stablemate Zurella in last season's Wellfield New Zealand Oaks and the listed NZ Bloodstock Insurance Manawatu Breeders' Stakes presents her with a gilt-edged chance to find her best form.

"It's unquestionably a downgrade for her. Having said that, it's a stronger field than I thought it might have been," Ritchie told the NZ Racing Desk.

"It's certainly no soft kill with some quality mares like O'Fille and Skysoblue in the field, but she's ready to go and hopefully she can bank a bit of money to justify the trip. Mark Du Plessis will be riding her."

A last-start fifth in the Lindauer New Zealand Stakes, Artistic will follow Awapuni with a run in the Travis Stakes at Te Rapa on April 27 before departing for the Queensland winter carnival.

"The Brisbane Cup is her main aim and she'll have one run over there before that," Ritchie said.

•Tiger Moss has been a surprise packet for Wexford Stables this year and they will raise the bar again at Ellerslie tomorrow for the unbeaten 3-year-old.

"If you'd asked me six months ago I'd have said she's just another filly in the stable, but as soon as we put a little bit of pressure on her she's kept on improving," trainer Andrew Scott said. "She's going in the right direction and trained on well, although it's another step up for her but she can't do any more than she's doing."

Tiger Moss will take on a competitive line-up in the Barfoot & Thompson 3YO after overcoming a wide run for a Pukekohe debut win and then came from the back to dead-heat for first at Auckland.Additional reporting, NZ Racing Desk

- NZ Herald

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