Racing: Blinkers go on Sofia Rosa

Thee Auld Floozie's (grey) last four starts have produced three wins and a second. Photo / Trish Dunell
Thee Auld Floozie's (grey) last four starts have produced three wins and a second. Photo / Trish Dunell

Sofia Rosa will race in blinkers for the first time in the group one New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes at Te Rapa on Saturday.

The 2016 Australian Oaks winner pleased her trainer, Stephen Marsh, when working in blinkers at Cambridge yesterday morning.

"She had never worn blinkers until today and I thought she worked really well," Marsh said.

"She has been doing a few things wrong in her last few runs. She has been laying in and laying out and we are hoping that blinkers will sharpen her up and make her concentrate a bit more."

Sofia Rosa has not been successful since her Oaks triumph 12 months ago but Marsh believes she will have much in her favour for Saturday's 1600m feature.

The mare should be close to peak fitness at her fourth run this preparation. She finished seventh in the NRM Sprint (1400m) fresh-up, before finishing third, behind Kawi and Start Wondering, in the Haunui Classic (1600m) at Otaki.

She then went to Sydney for a crack at the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and faded to fifth, in a seven-horse field. However, she still had two group one winners behind her and the four who finished ahead of her - Our Ivanhowe, Hartnell, The United States and Antonio Giuseppe - represent much tougher company than she will meet at Te Rapa.

"We have given her a little freshen up since Sydney - with just the one runalong this morning - and she still has that base fitness," Marsh said.

"I don't want a bottomless track but she should handle the ground, she's back against fillies and mares and I can't see why she won't be a massive hope.

"I thought her last 100m at Otaki was very good and that was on a good track."

Sofia Rosa has had just one placing from four runs at 1600m but she fell in one attempt and her two other unplaced runs at the distance have been in group one company in Australia.

Danielle Johnson will ride Sofia Rosa on Saturday with Opie Bosson riding stablemate Thee Auld Floozie, who completes a strong Breeders' Stakes hand for Marsh.

Thee Auld Floozie is the highest-rated runner and has a career record of 10 wins and seven seconds from 28 starts. She has won in heavy ground and her last four starts have produced three wins and a second, including wins at group one and group two level.

"I'm pretty happy with my two going into the race," Marsh said. "Thee Auld Floozie is probably the form runner and has done well. But I find it hard to separate the pair."

Both horses are likely to go on to the group two Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on April 29.

Marsh, who has won nine black-type races this term, will have a quality team at Te Rapa, with Chocante, Seize The Moment, Mystery Show and Demelza the stable's other entries.

Four-year-old Chocante has not raced since producing an outstanding run to win the Counties Cup in November. He tackles the open 1400m on Saturday and Marsh believes the horse has the class to be competitive fresh-up and also in the Manco Easter Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie a fortnight later.

"He came back a lot stronger this time in. He was a young, immature stayer in the spring but still did a good job."

Cambridge filly Bonneval remained at the top of the Australian Oaks market after acceptances were taken yesterday for the feature races at Randwick on Saturday.

Bonneval drew barrier six in the 14-horse field and is one of three Kiwi trained Oaks runners, the others being Devise (9) and La Bella Diosa (1). Hugh Bowman rides Bonneval with Damien Oliver on Devise and Jason Collett on La Bella Diosa.

Chance To Dance, who is a newcomer to the Autridge-Richards stable, Pentathlon and Mister Impatience start in the A$2m Sydney Cup and Saracino, a stablemate of Bonneval, takes on the three-year-old sprinters in the A$600,000 Arrowfield Sprint (1200m).

- NZ Herald

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