Chequerboard captures Tasmanian Oaks
New Zealand Bloodstock sales graduate Chequerboard recorded her first stakes victory when taking out the Listed Kevin Sharkie Tasmanian Oaks (2100m) at Launceston on Sunday.
The Tom Dabernig and Ben Hayes-trained filly was fresh off a runner-up result in the Listed Strutt Stakes (2100m) at Hobart and her connections were confident she could go one better on Sunday.
Ridden by Brendon McCoull, Chequerboard was trapped three wide early but soon settled into fourth spot, one off the rail.
Turning for home McCoull asked his charge to improve and Chequerboard quickly swooped around the outside to take the lead.
The daughter of Fastnet Rock carried her part-owner Coolmore's famous blue silks to a 1-1/2 length victory over Queen Adele, with a further five lengths back to My Squeeze Louise in third.
McCoull admitted to being slightly concerned with his position early on in the race.
"I was a little bit worried for a second early in the race, and I was running through my options," McCoull said.
"I waited until the race unfolded a bit more and, luckily, I was able to slot in.
"I was pretty confident from then on. I had a nice run and, by the 600m mark, I was very confident she'd win.
"She did lose concentration a bit when she hit the front, and a set of winkers might help. I think she would have put them away even more easily if she'd had something to chase."
Out of the Zabeel mare Chi, Chequerboard was offered through Rich Hill Stud's draft at the 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale.
Country Championships Final beckons Charmmebaby
Charm Spirit mare Charmmebaby will head to the big smoke during Easter weekend to take her place in the Country Championships Final at Randwick after winning at Scone on Sunday.
The Bob Milligan-trained four-year-old ran home well under jockey Grant Buckley, after settling back early, to secure a 3-1/2 length victory over Subtle Grey in the Country Cups Qualifier (1400m).
It was the fifth victory for Charmmebaby and stable representative Glen Milligan admitted to feeling a bit apprehensive in the running when his charge was further back than he liked.
"I was confident she could win, it just worried me where she was going to get in the run," Milligan told Sky Thoroughbred Central.
"I said (to Buckley) just come back and don't have an excuse why we got beaten.
"She surprised me how she let down because she's always a bit dour and takes a while to wind up."
Buckley said he was confident going into the qualifier and was able to use the backs of Andrew Gibbons on Bellastar and Dylan Gibbons on Chase My Crown to his advantage.
"They took me right to where I needed to get, it worked out perfectly," he said.
"She keeps stepping up to the mark. She really finished off well and put them to the sword.
"It was good to clean them up like that and I think the horse is heading in the right direction."
Charmmebaby was purchased out of Prima Park's 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 3 Yearling Sale draft by bloodstock agent Robt Dawe in partnership with Brian Black for $18,000.
Derby dream up for grabs
Racing fans will have their chance to live their Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) dream next month.
Brett Wilkinson, the manager of the Montre Moi Syndicate, who part-own the three-year-old gelding Montre Moi, has put up a two percent share in the Derby hopeful for the day on Gavelhouse Plus this week, with all proceeds going to Lifeline Aotearoa.
Should Montre Moi win the time-honoured event, the winning bidder will take home their $10,000 share of the $1 million prize-pool and priceless memories to last a lifetime.
The successful bidder will also receive full owner privileges at New Zealand's premier racetrack, Ellerslie, with the added bonus of a table for four in Cuvée valued at more than $1,300.
They will also be treated to a behind the scenes experience including watching the start of an earlier race from the barriers with Auckland Racing Club chief executive Paul Wilcox.
"I feel very fortunate to have a horse talented enough to run in the Derby and this is a good way to share the dream while at the same time raising money to assist a vital need in Lifeline Aotearoa," Wilkinson said.
Wilcox was also delighted to be supporting the initiative.
"We are proud to join with Brett to contribute to this wonderful cause," he said.
"With the past year impacting the way in which we live, work and play, the need to connect with one another has never been greater.
"While Auckland Cup Week will certainly help bring people together and provide that social interaction we have all found ourselves craving, it is the tireless efforts of Lifeline Aotearoa who are there for those of our fellow Kiwis in desperate need that is the most important."
Montre Moi has won two of his five starts, and placed behind star three-year-olds Aegon and Amarelinha in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie last month.
The Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard-trained gelding is currently a $5.50 third-favourite for the New Zealand Derby, behind Amarelinha ($2.50), who is yet to be nominated for the race, and dual Guineas winner Rocket Spade ($3.50).
The sale is now live on plus.gavelhouse.com, and will run until 7pm on Sunday, February 28.