The Ruakākā race meeting on Sunday, August 12 last year unearthed a future Australian racing star in Verry Elleegant, who was subsequently sold overseas.
Verry Elleegant went on to win several Group races including the Australian Oaks in Sydney with a total of more than $1.2 million in prize money.
Verry Elleegant is nominated for the 2019 Cox Plate and begins her new season racing shortly, after recently completing two Sydney trials.
Is there another future star to be unearthed tomorrow with the same Cox Plate ambitions?
In race one, the Tee Cafe at Ruakākā Races Maiden, the Jacob McKay trained Aalaalune is engaged with Craig Grylls to ride from barrier five.
Aalaalune is also nominated for this year's Cox Plate, so a win over the 1000 metre trip against maiden runners should be a walk in the park if it is to realise its potential to compete at the very best of weight for age company this spring.
Aalaalune's 2-year-old runs were full of merit, such as just being beaten in the Group 1 Sistema Stakes and her recent trial win last month should have her very forward for this race. The filly is by Reliable Man, whose progeny just seem to be getting better with age, and a middle distance later in the preparation of Aalaalune would seem a logical step.
Talking of racing stars. Beauty Generation claimed the Hong Kong Horse of the Year award for the second year in a row.
A four-time Group 1 victor this term, Hong Kong's superstar galloper was also named Champion Miler for the second consecutive year.
The connection to Ruakākā is that his half brother Drops Of Jupiter will be racing on Sunday in the Fell Engineering maiden over 1600 metres. Now a 4-year-old, this Echoes Of Heaven gelding has taken time to grow into his huge frame, but showed potential when second first up over the 1600 metres at his only start last meeting.
Owned by Peter Woods, Michelle Bradley and long-term Logan Racing clients in Ashley Goodwin, Ivy Pearson and D Tay, Drops Of Jupiter looks like a horse that will make a better than average stayer who would appreciate the more gradual turns than Ruakākā. Having drawn barrier 13 rather than one may be for the better on Sunday.
The main competition may come from the other locally owned runner Anjameme.
Bred and owned by Grant Currie the 4-year-old-mare by Burgundy, is the first foal to race from his mare Lola Beetle. Anjameme was narrowly beaten at her third start at Matamata over 1400m after coming from last and racing somewhat ungenerously in the early stages.
With the addition of a noseband, three raceday experiences (two placed) and the good barrier draw of four this mare from the powerful Baker/Forsman stable will be expected to start favourite.
Not sure how some of the names of horses come about but there must be a story about Anjameme.
With the transition of Logan Racing to Singapore, the decline in the number of horses stabled at their Ruakākā base has continued to decline with clearly more horses being trained in Singapore than here locally. This is opening the opportunity for other trainers to use the yards as a satellite operation.
Stephen Marsh has 13 horses in work at the course and the effect was immediate with two locally prepared horses winning at the last meeting. A regular visitor each August is Shaune Ritchie who has six stabled at the course and is caretaking two for his father.
A most welcome rider returning to Ruakākā tomorrow is apprentice Sam Weatherley, who regularly won many races before heading to spend eighteen months in Sydney with Chris Waller.
Despite his success there, the apprentice recently returned and is looking to take up where he left off, riding all across the country with as many winners as he can ride.
The local stable of Rae Racing were quick to pick up his services and his best chance for them could be the Totara Park bred and part-owned Billy The Kid in the Harcourts For Hospice – Saturday, August 31 maiden race over 1200m.
Billy The Kid has recently been re-located to the Rae's Ruakaka stable after two placings from three starts on heavy tracks in the central districts.
An interesting ride for the apprentice Weatherley is the imported mare Nomoatha (Ire) who has won at Pontefract in West Yorkshire, England.
Imported after only four runs this mare trialled recently at Taupo and looked like she didn't appreciate the tight turning course, which is so much different to the large straight courses of the United Kingdom.
With that experience under her belt she could be one to keep any eye on, although no doubt she was bought more for breeding purposes rather than a racing proposition.
New local trainer Donna Clark became licensed last year and had nine runners without success and Sunday's meeting, being the first of the 2019/so racing season, provides her with two opportunities to start the new season with a success.
In the NZB Insurance Pearl Series maiden for fillies and mares over 1400m Break The Rules will appreciate the barrier draw of one compared to 12 of last start where she had to race wide without cover and weakened out over the last 100m. With eight horses qualified for the bonus associated with the series it once again proves the value of the NZ Bloodstock Pearl Series.
Perhaps Clark's best chance is in the Hirepool rating 65 with Retallick who finished on well last start when fourth behind Viola Vega in a very fast race on July 13 at Ruakākā. Both runners will be ridden by the experienced Reese Jones.