The fifth leg of New Zealand Bloodstock's Filly of the Year Series - the $100,000 Group 2 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day - has attracted a large field of 19 fillies for the event.
King's Rose (Redoute's Choice x Nureyev's Girl) currently heads the Series with 18 points but will not contest this race. Second placed Rememba Howe (Handsome Ransom x Yachting Magic) remains her greatest threat and a win on Sunday would take her to within two-and-a-half points of the lead with Sunday's winner receiving eight points in the Series, second place receiving four points and third receiving two points.
The Group 1 Levin Classic late last month is proving a strong form guide for the Eight Carat Classic. Early race favourites, the Dick & Chris Bothwell trained Blinding (Black Minnaloushe x Dazzling Walk), the Murray & Bjorn Baker trained Lady Kipling (Savabeel x Akela) and the Donna, Dean Logan & Chris Gibbs trained Queen of Pop (Pins x Dame Mapperley) all produced good performances behind boom filly We Can Say It Now.
In a very open contest, the three fillies are the only entries currently showing single figure odds for the fillies feature on Boxing Day.
The Evan & J J Rayner trained Rememba Howe has raced well this season and is currently sitting in second place in the NZB Filly of the Year Series with her last start third in the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes behind King's Rose. In a switch, Paul Taylor will take the mount from barrier 8.
Ishma (Ishiguru x Maidjeu) is another that has been racing well with two wins from her last three starts under her belt. Trained by the in-form team of Murray & Bjorn Baker, Opie Bosson replaces Sam Spratt on Sunday.
The NZB 1000 Guineas saw a good run in a tough race from Smoulder (Traditionally x Flying Firebird) to be promoted to third place. Trained by Graeme & Mark Sanders for The Oaks Stud the filly is already a winner at Ellerslie which could play to her advantage, helping her overcome any disadvantage from barrier 17.
The Puhinui Three Day Event Mile on 4 December saw Keenly (Keeninsky x Marlena) run well behind the promising filly Shamabelle. In the same ownership as Smoulder, Keenly has only been out of the money once in her six starts this season.
Trainer Steven McKee has a strong hand in the race with three runners: Born To Rock (Fastnet Rock x Call Me Pretty) and Our Squeezer (Redoute's Choice x Imposingly) who are both coming off back to back wins, and Cool Storm (One Cool Cat x Flying Free) who has notched up two second placings from her last two starts but Our Squeezer is untested at the distance.
Last season's Champion Two-Year-Old Banchee (Oratorio x Miss Jessie Jay) and Annie Higgins (O'Reilly x Diva Belle) will both be looking to claim their first NZB Filly of the Year points in the race. The pair ran well behind the first three at their last start in the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes. Trainer John Sargent will be hoping Banchee can make the most of her ace draw this time out. James McDonald is back on board for the first time since Riccarton.
Last start winners Designacat (One Cool Cat x Scenic Design) and Midnight Oil (Keeper x Gilded Light) are both having their debut races in the NZB Filly of the Year Series and will be looking to carry their current form into the race. Both have to overcome wide draws at 15 and 18 respectively.
Other runners for the race include the consistent filly Mygoodgrace (Royal Academy x Good Faith), Guru Girl (Ishiguru x October Skys), Dreamcatcher (Stravinsky x Wee Devil), Lady Carolyn (General Nediym x Lion Around) and Marching On (Pentire x Our Shinia).
The $100,000 Group 2 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Cl