Sir Peter Vela will look forward to today's Travis Stakes with two chances of adding to his previous three wins in the weight-for-age fillies and mares' feature.
Sir Peter and his late brother Philip first won the race, then known as the Dulcie Stakes, with Christiania Belle in 1993 before adding success through Dolmabache in 2012 and Rasa Lila last year.
Rasa Lila is back to defend her title for Maungatautari trainers Steven Ramsay and Julia Ritchie today and will be joined by the Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards-trained Echezeau.
Six-year-old Darci Brahma mare Rasa Lila goes into the race as the higher-rated of the pair and looks an improver on her first-up sixth in the Gr.1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa three weeks ago, according to Sir Peter's racing manager Garry Cossey.
That day she chased home Travis Stakes rivals Charmont, Thee Auld Floozie, Mime and Sofia Rosa when beaten 2 lengths.
"She needs to find a couple of lengths but she should have that improvement in her. Steven and Julia have said she has come on nicely since that run," Cossey said.
"They are really happy with her. It's brought her on and the three weeks between races is ideal for her. She's in a pretty good space but we hold no false illusions - it's a very strong edition of the Travis Stakes this year. But she should be a nice each-way chance.
"A good track suits. That's the whole key with her so she can kick off it. She beat Thee Auld Floozie in this race last year and wasn't far away from Kawi and Mime in the Windsor Park Plate earlier in the season. At her best, she's right up with them," Cossey said.
Echezeaux is the lowest-rated entry in the Travis Stakes but she resumed with a meritorious second placing at Hastings earlier this month and earlier this season won second-up at Trentham, defeating subsequent group two performer Beefeater.
"She has come back really well. Her sectionals at Hastings were very good compared to all other runners on the day," Cossey said.
"Jamie and Stephen aren't worried about the jump to 2000m as she is essentially a staying mare. It's great to have Opie Bosson on and we think she can get some of it." The Vela colours will also go around on Sopraffina in the Cambridge Premier at Te Rapa, with Cossey confident she would prove competitive, and Asama Blue at Hastings, the Haydock debut winner making her debut at Hastings after an unplaced trial.
- NZ Racing Desk