Saturday's $85,000 Group 2 New Zealand Bloodstock Insurance Hawke's Bay Guineas has attracted a cracking field for the 1400 metre three-year-old feature.
In a race that boasts some outstanding previous winners like Darci Brahma, Jokers Wild, Alamosa and Keyora, this year's line up is continuing the trend by promising a strong contest. Taking a look at the field, a good place to start is with the ultra-consistent and most experienced colts, Cellarmaster (Dubawi x Oenology) and Jimmy Choux (Thorn Park x Ciero).
The two colts have been competing against each other in their previous five starts with Jimmy Choux turning the tables on Cellarmaster in the recent Listed HS Dyke Wanganui Guineas. This follows last season's battles which saw them place in both two-year-old Group 1 races behind Champion Two-Year-Old Banchee and Mr Nacho. With little between them, the barrier draw could be the deciding factor.
The Roger James trained He's Remarkable (Pentire x Axiom) put his hand up last start blowing away his opposition in the JJ on Tap (1300m) in Taupo earlier this month. If he can reproduce the turn of foot that saw him draw clear to win by two-and-a-quarter-lengths, he will be tough to beat.
Half-brother to Group 1 winner Ekstreme, the big strong colt Maradona (Mr Nacho x Cashcade) has showed plenty of promise notching up his maiden win last start. The son of Mr Nacho dealt to his opposition in the hands of Opie Bosson on Windsor Park Plate day two weeks ago on the Hastings track. He is another runner that has real appeal in a talented line up.
The Tony Gillies trained Fiddler (Keeninsky x Adonia) won the Listed HS Dyke Wanganui Guineas last start in a brave front-running display beating Cellarmaster and Jimmy Choux, and is hard to fault. Also coming off a strong last start win is the Peter McKay trained Grande Rosso (General Nediym x Little Deuce Coupe) who won his maiden race over 1200 metres beating Panthera (One Cool Cat x Tesoro), another consistent performer lining up in the race.
The Passion for Hair 3YO over 1200 metres saw three race runners go round the track with the John Morell trained Follow the Birds (O'Reilly x Annalee) too good beating Undisclosed (Pins x Dare to Win) by three-quarters-of-a-length, both were good runs coming into Saturday's race.
Icepin (Pins x Ice Maiden) was also in the race but tailed off for seventh place, she was found to have a cardiac arrhythmia and has since trialed and was unplaced. Icepin beat a strong field including Cellarmaster and Jimmy Choux in the Group 3 Waikato Stud 2YO Classic over 1200 metres and came second to Sister Havana in the New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Million last season.
We Can Say It Now (Starcraft x We Can't Say That) showed that he is a contender winning his maiden in his first start beating fellow runner Panthera. Shotoutofagun (Le Bec Fin x Spandex) and Barefoot (Footstepsinthesand x Mighty Myrtle) both showed good form as two-year-olds and will be looking to emulate that on Saturday. The Phoenix (O'Reilly x The Glitter) produced a winning effort fresh up and battled on for a good forth last start.
Four three-year-olds lining up on Saturday are eligible to contest the $200,000 Karaka 3YO Mile on 30 January, the second race in the Karaka Million Series open to NZB Yearling Sale graduates. They are Icepin, Maradona, Undisclosed and Grande Rosso. The final field of three-year-olds will be determined according to their domestic ratings. Details of the up-to-date Order of Entry for both races can be followed on www.nzb.co.nz.
A prolific race sponsor in its own right, this is New Zealand Bloodstock Insurance's third sponsorship already this season. NZBI is also one of three new key strategic partners of the New Zealand Trainers' Association from this season.
The $85,000 Group 2 New Zealand Bloodstock Insurance Hawke's Bay Guineas will be run at Hastings at 3.06pm (race six) on Saturday.