Northland's top trainers are in the running for some Ellerslie success at the Boxing Day races today.
Ruakākā's leading stable of Chris Gibbs and Michelle Bradley will have three runners – Final Suggestion, Mumm's Jewel and Annie's Song.
The stable finished strongly at Ruakākā's Christmas at the Races meeting last week by winning the last three races on the programme, all ridden by Samantha Collett.
Today, Annie's Song tackles the best fillies in the Sky City Eight Carat Classic, which is worth $100,000 and is contested over 1600m.
An impressive Ruakākā winner last week, the filly was unlucky at her previous start at Ellerslie when she had to race wide without cover. The 1600m looks ideal and new jockey Cameron Lammas will be looking to get a trail to save her for one last run.
A change of rider was necessary as Samantha Collett was suspended from the key Christmas carnival race meetings for weighing in light (by 600g) when placed on Lord Polonius in race two at the recent Ruakākā meeting.
A jockey weighing in light is a very rare occurrence and it will be very disappointing and costly for Samantha who can't accept rides until December 30.
Finishing third behind Annie's Song last week was Sonofabutcher, who had been slow away and then had a hampered passage through the field.
This three-year-old Buffalo Man gelding will tackle the Shaw's Wires Ropes Uncle Remus Stakes over 1400m.
Trained by Kim Knight at Ruakākā, it would be an ironic twist for a son of Buffalo Man to win the race that honours Uncle Remus, one of NZ's best three-year-olds, who was bred and part-owned by the Donaldson family of Totara Park and who also stood the stallion Buffalo Man.
Looking back over this year, it is likely that the best winner ever of the Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders Stakes was uncovered when Catalyst convincingly won in September at Ruakākā and then went on to dominate all the three-year-old features.
Catalyst's autumn form in Australia will be the critical test for the crown.
The year has also seen the development of many changes at the industry level with the Government, led by the Minister for Racing Winston Peters, looking to reinvigorate the industry so that prize money increases, facilities at venues improve and the drain of owners to racehorses in Australia and Singapore is curtailed.
Local racing returns on Saturday, January 4 with the Interislander Summer Festival - Ruakākā meeting.
Traditionally, the meeting has the greatest attendance of any Ruakākā meeting and is filled with three generational families that are together for the summer holidays at the campgrounds or are staying with family.
The day is known more for the fun on the track for the kids with their races, than the quantity of horses. The day is focused on family fun with a relaxed thoroughbred race meeting for everyone to enjoy.