Group Two performer Yearn will kick-off her 6-year-old season in the Roger Gill Agriculture 1200 at Pukekohe today, beginning her mission to try to add an all-important stakes victory to her resume.
The daughter of Savabeel has won six of her 31 starts and has been placed on three occasions at stakes level, including second in the Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m) and third in the Gr.2 Westbury Classic (1400m) and Gr.2 Easter Handicap (1600m).
The Karen Fursdon-trained mare began her preparation on the best possible note, winning her 880m trial at Te Rapa last month, and that has her connections excited ahead of today.
"She is really well, she had a trial on the 15th at Te Rapa and she performed extremely well and has come through it great," Fursdon said.
"We are really looking forward to starting off tomorrow. She seems to be so much stronger and she just looks terrific."
Although Fursdon believes Yearn is suited over more ground, she is taking confidence into today from previous fresh-up performances.
"She has run some very good 1200m races fresh," Fursdon said. "She ran second when fresh-up last time and even through the middle of the season she was extremely capable, but she is a better horse at 1400m. She won her 880m trial at Te Rapa very convincingly, so I am picking she is going to be very competitive."
TAB bookmakers have installed Yearn as a $6.50 equal third-favourite with Le Castille, behind the Peter and Dawn Williams-trained Marzemino ($3.40) and Midnight Runner ($4).
Yearn won't have to wait long to have her first tilt at stakes-level this season, with Fursdon eyeing the Gr.2 Feeds Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes (1400m) as her first major target.
"Our first aim is the 1400m weight-for-age fillies and mares race at Counties on November 23," she said.
"That will give us an idea of where to aim. I would love to have a go at a mile and maybe even further through the middle of the season.
• Injured jockey Donavan Mansour is in good spirits after a successful operation on his broken pelvis at Waikato Hospital on Thursday.
The popular hoop sustained the injury after his mount reared up and fell backwards on to him at Te Aroha on Wednesday.
"The results were fantastic, the surgery went really well," Mansour's riding agent Tony Raklander said. "He looks a different person, he has all the colour back in his face.
"The surgeon was really happy with the results. He said everything went to plan, so they don't see any issues going forward."
Raklander said Mansour is doing so well he is set to start treatment with physiotherapists today.
"They are happy with the way he is progressing, so much so that they are going to get him up on the side of the bed today and start getting his body moving again, getting him sitting up and start using his upper body.
"It's a really positive result."
- NZ Racing Desk