Celebrating a half-century of three-year-old filly excellence, the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series springs to life for the 50th time on Saturday with the running of the Hawke's Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) at Hastings.
The Gold Trail Stakes is the first of 11 races in the coveted NZB Filly of the Year Series, which has been won by some of the greats of the New Zealand turf, including, in recent years, Princess Coup (Encosta de Lago), Katie Lee (Pins), King's Rose (NZ) (Redoute's Choice), Bonneval (NZ) (Makfi) and last season's star filly Amarelinha (NZ) (Savabeel).
The prestigious series spans 11 Group races from early spring right through to March, when it culminates in the New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) at Trentham.
The eleven races throughout the season are keenly contested and with significant prizes for the owner, trainer and breeder of the ultimate Series winner. The NZB Filly of the Year winner immediately becomes a highly valuable breeding proposition and earns her connections NZ$50,000 in bonus cheques including NZ$10,000 for her breeder, NZ$10,000 for her trainer and $30,000 for her owner.
Saturday's Gold Trail Stakes is set to provide a typically exciting start for the milestone 50th series, with a fascinating mixture of proven performance and stellar potential among its talented line-up.
The 16-horse field is headed by the undefeated Imperatriz (I Am Invincible), who has had three starts for three wins including last season's Eclipse Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) and a resuming victory in the Northland Breeders' Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) earlier this month.
Bonny Lass (Super Easy) won the Matamata Breeders' Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) in February, then picked up outstanding placings in the Sistema Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m).
Bellacontte (Burgundy), Ima Roca Bee (El Roca) and Danger Strykes (Astern) are all Listed winners, while Farrenc (Dalghar) and Fonsalette (Belardo) are Group-placed.
The Gold Trail Stakes is worth six NZB Filly of the Year Series points to the winner, with three points for second and 1.5 for third.