Kiwis land strong field of raiders for another Queensland winter

THE Kiwis have long been a force in Queensland during the winter and a plane load of 15 New Zealanders touched down in Brisbane on Thursday attempting to better last year’s feature race haul.

Provocative (Oaks) and Sacred Elixir (JJ Atkins) turned Stradbroke Day into a Tony Pike benefit last year and the Kiwi class of 2017 looks as strong as ever, even with Pike not having feature race entries this year.

Te Akau Racing’s Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards snared the Rosehill Guineas with Gingernuts in March and have assembled a strong Queensland team on paper.

Heading the Te Akau charge are Group 1 winners Heroic Valour, Hall Of Fame and Melody Belle.

The latter two landed in Australia on Thursday, while Heroic Valour arrived last month and has trialled at Hawkesbury in readiness for Saturday’s Gold Coast Guineas.

 

Touchdown: Benzini (right) winning last year’s Brisbane Cup. Picture: Jono Searle
       

“He trialled very good at Hawkesbury last week. They tell me he didn’t work great Tuesday but Jamie was very happy with him (Thursday),” Autridge said.

“He is a very good horse and I am hoping he runs one, two or three.”

Heroic Valour is one of three Te Akau Stradbroke nominations, alongside Hall Of Fame and the up and coming Splurge.

“Splurge has a pretty good record. This trip we will find out if he’s up to the best class or not. Back here he’s pretty good and if it rains, he’s twice as good,” Autridge said.

Shocking Luck (who ran second at Ipswich on Monday) is on a Derby campaign, while Melody Belle is a JJ Atkins contender.

“Shocking Luck is a big striding horse and Ipswich might not have suited him. I was very happy with the run,” Autridge said.

“What Melody Belle has done has been outstanding. She ran the 1400m out really nice on a slow track, so we think the (Sires and Atkins) are spot on for her.”

 

Sacred Elixir and jockey Zac Purton combine to win the JJ Atkins. Picture: Jono Searle
       

Fellow two-year-old Gold Fever wasn’t on Thursday’s flight, but could earn a late call up if she races well in New Zealand on Saturday.

Donna Logan is a regular visitor with her training partner Chris Gibbs and the pair had Derby hope Comin’ Through and two-year-old Qiji Phoenix on yesterday’s flight.

Last year’s Brisbane Cup winner Benzini also arrived on Thursday, along with the Murray Baker-Andrew Forsman trained Group winner Mime.

Other arrivals included Sound Proposition (Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott), Sultan Of Swing (Shaune Ritchie), Chocante (Stephen Marsh), Start Wondering, Flying Fred (Evan and JJ Rayner), William Wallace (Adrian and Harry Bull), Euphoria (Rachael Frost) and Tessastock (Trent Busuttin).

Nominations for the Stradbroke (138) are well up on last year, with Black Heart Bart certain to be top weight when weights are released on May 29.

Story courtesy Nathan Exelby – Brisbane Courier Mail

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