Fillies set to clash in special Caulfield feature

New Zealand Bloodstock takes special pride in sponsoring Saturday’s A$150,000 Group 3 New Zealand Bloodstock Ethereal Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield.

The three-year-old fillies’ race is named in honour of the legendary Ethereal (NZ) (Rhythm), bred and raced by New Zealand Bloodstock principal Sir Peter Vela and his late brother Philip.

Carrying the Vela brothers’ famous blue and white hoops, Ethereal won eight races including four at Group 1 level. She earned more than $6 million in prizemoney.

The Ethereal Stakes is run on the same day as the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), which Ethereal won in 2001. The following month she added the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m). She was the 11th horse to win both famous races in the same spring, a feat that hasn’t been done again since.

A three-year-old fillies’ race that was first run in 2013, the Ethereal Stakes produced a special result in 2016 when it was won by Ethereal’s granddaughter Eleonora (NZ) (Makfi), who was bred by Sir Peter Vela’s Pencarrow Thoroughbreds.

Two horses – Set Square (Reset) in 2014 and Pinot (Pierro) last year – have won the Ethereal Stakes and gone on to win the Group 1 VRC Oaks (2500m) at Flemington.

This year’s field features one of the early favourites for the Oaks, Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed), who won two of her three starts in New Zealand before being sold into majority Australian ownership. In her first start for champion trainer Darren Weir, she was a fast-finishing third in the Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m).

Greysful Glamour (Stratum) is also a strong Oaks contender after impressively winning the VRC Oaks Trial (1800m) at Flemington late last month.

The Ethereal Stakes will be run as Race 5 on Saturday with a start time of 2.35pm (4.35pm NZ time).