Hastings stables could have two representatives in next month's Group 1 $300,000 gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas at Riccarton in Christchurch.
Xpression confirmed the trip south for the 1600m feature when she finished a close second behind Avantage in the Group 3 Hawke's Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings on September 22.
Her stablemate Mohaka only had to perform well in a 3-year-old maiden 1400m race at Tauherenikau yesterday to also book a place on a float to the South Island next Tuesday.
"Xpression is definitely going at this stage and it just depends on how Mohaka performs on Thursday but we would like to see both of them head south," co-trainer Guy Lowry said earlier this week.
Xpression went down by only a short head at Hastings last start after she and Advantage went head to head all the way up the home straight.
It was a gutsy run from the Showcasing filly and Lowry is delighted with the way she has trained on since. He and co-trainer Grant Cullen kept the filly tuned up with a 1000m jumpout at Hastings on Monday, where she finished a comfortable third.
Regular rider Samantha Collett made a special trip down from her Waikato base to ride Xpression in the jumpout. She settled the filly back in the field and kept her under a firm hold before letting her stride out in the last 200 metres.
Xpression is expected to make her South Island debut in the Group 3 $50,000 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m) at Ashburton on October 20 and Lowry thinks this will serve as an ideal lead up to the New Zealand 1000 Guineas on November 17.
Xpression has had only four starts for two wins, a second and a third.
She preceded her Gold Trail Stakes second with a game win over 1100m at Taupo on August 22, where she came from well back at the 600m to get up and down Santa Catarina by a long head.
"I'm very happy with her and the way she is going she should easily get 1400 metres and I think she'll get 1600 metres okay. She relaxes in her races really well which is a big asset," Lowry said.
Mohaka was having her third start when she lined up at Tauherenikau yesterday after a debut third behind Xpression and Santa Catarina over 1100m at Taupo and a third in the Listed Wanganui Guineas (1340m) last month.
"No one knows whether Mohaka will run on a good track but she shows plenty of promise and the way she races we'd love to see her get up to a mile," Lowry added.
If Mohaka heads south she is expected to contest the Listed $70,000 Zacinto Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton on October 27 as a final lead up to the New Zealand 1000 Guineas.
Samantha Collett has been booked to ride Xpression in her two South Island races and will also ride Mohaka if she contests the Zacinto Stakes.
The last Hastings-trained winner of the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas was Burletta in 1983. She was prepared by Patrick Campbell and ridden by the then Hastings apprentice Jimmy Cassidy.
Record race day at Hastings
A sell-out crowd and a record betting turnover made for a hugely successful day's racing at last Saturday's third day of the Bostock New Zealand Hawke's Bay spring carnival.
Hawke's Bay Racing chief executive officer Andrew Castles said it was a fabulous day and the atmosphere on course was "fantastic".
He said a crowd of about 7000 people was on course, with about 3000 of them housed in pre-paid hospitality marquees and tents.
"With so many pre-paid patrons we had to limit the general admission passes on race day to 100 and once they were sold it was a full house," Castles said.
He added that, given the huge crowd, there very few problems and the comments he received from the police and authorities was positive.
On-course betting totalled almost $1.1million, which Castles said was $250,000 ahead of budget.
The New Zealand Punter of The Year competition drew 162 entrants, which was the highest number since 2006 and betting turnover from the special punters' room totalled almost $500,000.
Whangarei's Tony Erceg was a first time winner of the punter's competition after 20 years of trying.
He amassed more than $9500 from his $1500 outlay and won it all on the last race.
He said he had $500 left going into the last race and liked the winner Swisswatch which he backed to win. He also anchored that horse to win with five others for second and third in $10 trifectas and struck the $894.10 dividend 10 times.
Cameron wins jockeys' prize
Another highly successful day of riding at Hastings last Saturday saw Matthew Cameron take out the inaugural running of the Murray Thompson Trophy.
The trophy is in memory of the late Murray Thompson, who was a clerk of the course at Hastings race meetings since the mid 1970s and who passed away in August this year.
It was presented to the leading jockey on a points basis over the three days of the Bostock New Zealand Hawke's Bay spring carnival with points awarded on a basis of three for a win, two for second and one for third.
Cameron started last Saturday's third day on nine points and picked up another 10 with a win, three seconds and a third over the 10 race programme. Johnathan Parkes and Shaun McKay were equal second on 16 points.
Cameron received a $500 voucher from Winiata Saddlery.
Pitman on the mend after surgery
Early indications are positive for Riccarton trainer Michael Pitman, who underwent surgery for bowel cancer on Monday.
The 63-year-old, who trains in partnership with his son Matthew, prepared Savvy Coup to win last Saturday's Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m), feature race on the third day of the Bostock New Zealand Hawke's Bay spring carnival.
The daughter of Savabeel will now head to Melbourne for a clash with Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) on October 27 and Pitman is hoping to recover in time to be trackside.
"He was meant to be in theatre for five hours and he ended up being in there for about seven and a half, but other than taking a bit longer than anticipated, it went pretty well from what the surgeon told us," Matthew Pitman said.
Savvy Coup will travel to Melbourne on the October 17 to give the dual Group 1 winner 10 days to prepare for her toughest assignment to date.
"Mum will go over with her and Savvy Coup is a mare that loves travelling," Pitman said.
"She got back (from the North Island) on Monday afternoon and was straight into her feed. The run hasn't knocked her around one little bit and she looks as bright as ever."
Simon Wilson wins award
Waipukurau's Simon Wilson is the recipient of Hawke's Bay Racehorse Owners Association's by-monthly trophy for the months of August and September.
Wilson is the trainer and part-owner of the well performed galloper Dez, who had four starts during the months of August and September for a win and two thirds.
He won the $40,000 Christchurch Casino Classic (1800m) at Riccarton while his third placings were in the Group 3 Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton and the Group 3 Boehringer Ingelheim 1600 at Awapuni.
Ladies First will miss Cup
Allan Sharrock says he has nobody but himself to blame after missing the first acceptance payment for next month's A$7 million Melbourne Cup (3200m), rendering Auckland Cup winner Ladies First ineligible to start.
The New Plymouth trainer was alerted to his mistake when talking to co-owner Humphrey O'Leary, who noted that there were 85 horses remaining in contention after Tuesday's first acceptances.
Sharrock hurriedly made calls to Victoria Racing Club and Racing Victoria officials and took advice off racing administrators and fellow trainers in New Zealand but to no avail.
A payment of A$3000 was due by midday on Tuesday, with fellow New Zealand stayers Bonneval, Mongolianconqueror, Our Abbadean, Highlad and Surrey also not paid up.
That leaves Jon Snow (10th on the order of entry), Vin De Dance (17th), Zacada (34th), Charles Road (35th) and Pentathlon (58th) as the remaining New Zealand-trained entries for the 3200m Flemington showpiece on November 6.
Waikato Stud buys Bonneval
Waikato Stud has won the race to purchase the two-time New Zealand Horse of the Year and multiple Group 1 winner Bonneval.
The Matamata nursery acted quickly when her retirement was announced last week and dug deep to secure the daughter of Makfi.
"She is on her way to Yarraman Park in Australia to be covered by I Am Invincible," stud principal Mark Chittick said.
"She's a beautifully-bred mare and while one mare won't turn it around, it is a bit of a reversal of our top mares going overseas.
She was a $150,000 Karaka yearling purchase in 2015 for Terry Jarvis, Alastair Lawrence and John Rattray.
Bonneval was prepared by Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and was a debut winner in the autumn of the following year.
Six starts later she triumphed in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) and crossed the Tasman to add the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) to her record.
Bonneval won the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) 12 months ago, but subsequently suffered a suspensory ligament injury.
Following two below-par efforts this spring, the decision was taken to retire the 5-year-old.
Bonneval will officially be in the ownership of Chittick's father Gary.