Horse Racing: Saying haere ra to NZ with a final win

By Michael Guerin

Luisanabelle Midfrew's trainer Nigel McGrath.
Luisanabelle Midfrew's trainer Nigel McGrath.

Luisanabelle Midfrew's last New Zealand start should be a winning one at Addington tonight.

While trainer Nigel McGrath admits he will be sad to lose the group one winner, he won't be finished with her after tonight.

The 4-year-old mare meets opposition lengths below what she has been racing in a leg of the $40,000 Pick6 tonight and even from the outside of the front line she looks an anchor.

Luisanabelle Midfrew was good enough to beat some of the better older mares in a historic New Zealand Breeders Stakes on April 1 and has since been brave but outclassed by the superstar fillies, headed by Dream About Me.

Realising their pride and joy faced that same prospect in the new season, her connections have opted to send her to NSW trainer John McCarthy next month.

But before then she will fly the New Zealand flag at the Breeders Crown in Victoria, starting with a semifinal on August 20.

"We weren't going to go to Aussie but with the big three fillies (Dream About Me, Golden Goddess and Piccadilly Princess) out this was too good a chance to miss," says trainer Nigel McGrath.

"Taking a line through Nek Time, who went over there and won the Queensland Oaks, I think we are a chance with a good draw in the final.

"And it makes sense for her to stay on in Australia afterwards because there isn't a lot here for her."

McGrath says that while Luisanabelle Midfrew will be short of her best tonight he still expects her to win, especially as the small field means driver Matthew Williamson has options.

McGrath is starting to stoke up his team after a quiet winter and rates all four of his reps tonight as each-way chances, with Kashana (R2) as his next best hope.

"She has gate speed so the ace over 1950m suits her."

Tonight's meeting sees the latest finals in the hugely successful Super Series, with three $23,500 races for lower grade horses.

Two of them look set to be dominated by Purdon-Rasmussen runners, with Stars Align (R3) and Mr Mojito (R5) looking particularly hard to defeat.

Later on the weekend, the All Stars stable changes its focus to its Victorian assault when Harness Jewels winner Custodian starts odds on in the Redwood Classic at Maryborough.

The race is a rarity for a 2-year-old trotting feature in that it is a standing start but Custodian has been solid from behind the tapes at the trials and is drawn well so is the one to beat against one-time Jewels invite Illawong Byron and the Auckland-owned Our Regal Love.

The latter was originally trained by the All Stars but was sent to Australia for better late season racing opportunities and won by 33m at Melton last Friday.

Sunday's other classic sees Wilma's Mate, High Gait, Temporale and Matatoki in the Victoria Trotters Derby.

Wilma's Mate will be the favourite in a race where manners will be the key.

Friday form
Best bet: Mr Mojito (R5, No 8): Handled first standing start beautifully last Friday so should be winning again tonight.

Each way: Kashana (R2, No 1): Draw and distance ideal, McClinchie (13) the danger.

Group one double: Kiwis can win both the Redwood (5.18pm) and Derby (5.52pm) at Maryborough on Sunday.

- NZ Herald

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