Hastings stables have enjoyed another outstanding week with three winners including success in stakes races in both the North and South Islands.
Satu Lagi, trained and owned by Patrick Campbell, started the ball rolling with a dominant maiden win at Woodville on Thursday last week.
Two days later star filly Xpression, prepared by Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen, cruised to a 2 length win in the Group 3 $70,000 Barneswood Farm Stakes at Ashburton while the same day saw Peso, owned by Paul and Carol Nelson, take out the Listed $50,000 Jakkalberry Classic at Rotorua.
Xpression has now been installed a clear $2.80 favourite for the Group 1 $300,000 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 17 after proving a class above her rivals in the feature 3-year-old race at Ashburton.
As usual jockey Samantha Collett let the Showcasing filly find her feet in the early stages and she was third last at the end of the first 200m of the 1400m event.
Collett still had a virtual stranglehold on her charge as they started to improve around the field coming to the home turn and the filly jogged up to challenge the leaders at the top of the home straight.
Once Collett released the brakes and gave Xpression a couple of flicks with the whip she dashed clear to win by 2 lengths from Our Flying Ace, with three-quarters of a length back to third placed Fire Show.
Co-trainer Grant Cullen, who prepares the filly with Guy Lowry from their Hastings base, was satisfied with the win as he looked ahead to a greater challenge at Riccarton next month.
"It was a nice ride as she got a nice track into the race," he said.
"The only concern was travelling so far from home but she's thrived since she has been here so it was fantastic to see her come through today."
Lowry said this week that Xpression has come through the race well and, although she won't race again until the New Zealand 1000 Guineas, there is a strong chance that she will have an exhibition gallop between races on the first day of the New Zealand Cup meeting at Riccarton on November 10.
Collett was the country's leading jockey last season but is still without a Group 1 victory to her name.
She has been placed several times at the elite level and thinks Xpression gives her a royal chance of finally getting that elusive success.
Xpression is by Showcasing out of the Don Eduardo mare Xpress and was bred by Haunui Farm studmaster Mark Chitty in partnership with his childhood friend Iain Renton of Hawke's Bay.
The pair now race the filly with other close Hawke's Bay friends in Paul Bayes, Mark Apatu and Fred Coates.
The Lowry/Cullen stable have sent two horses down south and the second of them, Mohaka, will line up in tomorrow's Listed $70,000 Zacinto Stakes at Riccarton.
The Nadeem is still a maiden and is taking on some talented 3-year-olds in the 1600m feature but she has recorded three good minor placings from three starts, including a third in the Listed Wanganui Guineas (1340m).
She is expected to be suited by the step up to 1600m on the roomy Riccarton track and another good run could see her join stablemate Xpression as a second string for the stable in the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas.
Peso chalks up third Rotorua win
Hastings owned and trained Peso is fast becoming a Rotorua track specialist after recording his third victory there last Saturday.
The Colombia 7-year-old, aided by an outstanding ride from jockey Rosie Myers, brought up his biggest success when taking out the Listed $50,000 Jakkalberry Classic (1950m).
It was his seventh start at Rotorua for three wins and a second.
The Paul Nelson-trained gelding has been a model of consistency this time in and brought good form into the race, having been narrowly beaten by Five To Midnight over 2000m at Hastings on September 22.
Myers took full advantage of an inside barrier draw as she positioned Peso nicely in the trail after disputing the early lead.
She managed to switch off the heels of the tiring pacemaker Peacock approaching the home corner and Peso dashed through on the inner again to grab control in the final 150m before holding out Woodsman and Highlad by three-quarters of a length.
Success in a lower-class event over the same distance at the corresponding meeting 12 months ago had Nelson believing that Peso was a big chance to emulate his deeds from that day.
"I didn't like to say but when he won here last year he ran faster than the open grade horses," he said.
"On that you had to think he could probably do it today."
Nelson, who shares in the ownership of Peso with wife Carol, admitted the inside barrier draw and a heady ride from Myers had played a major role in the victory.
"Without a doubt it helped as I think if we had of got that draw at Hastings last start he would have been a lot harder to beat," he said.
"Just for a minute when Peacock went back we thought he might have got carted back but Rosie got around him so it was a nice ride."
Peso broke through for his maiden win over 1950m on the Rotorua track in April of 2017 while he also finished second there, over the same distance, in September last year.
Nelson was unsure of the future plans for Peso but said there are a lot of nice races around for the horse, adding that he won't be getting too carried away.
Hastings trainer Patrick Campbell now has some ambitious plans for his exciting three-year-old Satu Lagi after the gelding cruised to a 1-3/4 length maiden win over 1300m at Woodville on Thursday last week.
Campbell, who is also the owner and breeder of son of Per Incanto, will now line him up in a $30,000 3-year-old race over 1200m at Trentham tomorrow and another good run there could see him tackle a black type event before he goes out for a summer spell.
"He'll only have another couple and then go out and it looks a nice race for him this Saturday," Campbell said.
Satu Lagi showed a glimpse of his ability when winning a 1000m Foxton trial by eight lengths last month and followed that up with a close debut second behind the highly regarded Hypnos over 1200m at Waipukurau on September 27.
He was sent out a hot favourite in his second start at Woodville and his supporters had no concerns in the running.
Jockey Darryl Bradley got the horse to settle fourth in the running before letting him stride up to the leaders coming to the home turn.
Satu Lagi quickly took over and was always in control, with Bradley hardly having to move a muscle over the final stages as they crossed the line 1-3/4 lengths clear of their rivals.
Campbell bred Satu Lagi out of the Danasinga mare La Singa, who recorded a win and four minor placings from only 15 starts.
She has also produced the two race winner In Another Life while Campbell now has a yearling colt by Power out of the mare and she has just produced another colt foal by Telperion, who is a son of Street Cry.
Embellish back on track
Last season's Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas winner Embellish showed he is close to a return to racing with a strong winning performance at last week's Te Awamutu trials.
The son of Savabeel hasn't raced since finishing midfield in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in March and has now had two trials in the past month, finishing unplaced at Cambridge before beating Caprikosa by three-quarters of a length in an open 1150m heat on Thursday of last week.
"He looks to be back on track," trainer Jamie Richards said. "He's taken a bit of time this year, but Opie (Bosson) was pleased with his trial."
A winner of three of his eight starts, Embellish holds a nomination for the Group 2 Coupland's Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton on November 14, but won't be taking his place in the feature.
"It's come around a bit too soon," Richards said. "We'll play around with him and have him ready for Ellerslie over the Christmas-New Year period.
"He could start off in an Open 1300m at Tauranga on November 3 and could be a chance for a race like the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie on New Year's Day."