Riodini on track for Epsom
Talented five-year-old Riodini is on target for the A$1.5 million Gr.1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) on Saturday week.
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained son of Proisir has put his best foot forward in his past two runs, finishing second in the Gr.2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) to Think It Over, before champion mare Verry Elleegant pulled out all stops to deny him in last Saturday's Gr.1 George Main Stakes (1600m).
"I thought he was excellent on the weekend," Bott said.
"His last two runs at weight-for-age have been very good. He is peaking at the right time and he has come through the right form race going into the Epsom.
"He drops down to 51kgs in the Epsom after racing at weight-for-age, which is ideal for him and obviously his couple of runs over the Randwick mile have been excellent. Returning there, he is a great chance."
Rachel King has gelled well with the former Kiwi, allowing him to dictate a strong pace at his past two outings, taking a number of his rivals out of their comfort zone.
"The blinkers have really switched him on and he has built fitness. We didn't want to have them on too early in the preparation so that we could build through to the Epsom," Bott said.
"The plan was always to have him ready for the Epsom."
Raced by New Zealander Alan Galbraith, Riodini began his career under Pukekohe trainer Nigel Tiley, for whom he won the Gr.3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) at three.
Transferred across the Tasman to the Waterhouse-Bott yard, Riodini was placed in last year's Epsom Handicap behind Probabeel.
Riodini suffered a setback in training earlier this year which forced the talented galloper to miss the autumn carnival.
Great Northern transferred to Te Aroha
The jumps racing fraternity has been denied the chance of farewelling the Ellerslie Hill for a final time with next week's Great Northern meeting transferred to Te Aroha.
While there was the option of delaying the meeting by a week at Ellerslie, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Auckland Thoroughbred Racing and the New Zealand Jumping Association decided the venue change was a more logical option.
"It provides certainty for the connections of the horses and their preparation and from a wagering perspective," NZTR said in a statement.
"A further delay in running the two Northerns – which were originally scheduled for 19 September – also raised horse welfare issues around the spacing of the races and potential track conditions, bearing in mind that most of the steeplechase course at Ellerslie cannot be irrigated.
"The uncertainty around COVID-19 Levels for Auckland on 10 October was another factor."
The switch to Te Aroha will result in minor distance changes for the feature races, with the $125,000 Hurdle run over 4200m (originally 4190m) and the Steeplechase over 6200m (originally 6400m).
The maiden hurdle will be run over 3100m and the 0-1-win steeplechase at 3500m, with stake increases applied to both races. In acknowledgement of the recent disruption to the jumping race pattern, NZTR has doubled the stake for the 0-1-win steeplechase, to $30,000, and increased the maiden hurdle stake from $15,000 to $25,000.
Guineas aspirations for The Perfect Pink
The Jamie Richards-trained The Perfect Pink picked up her maiden victory at just the third time of asking when winning the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1300m) at Cambridge on Wednesday.
The filly got the perfect trip in the one-one before jockey Michael McNab asked her to improve three-wide turning for home where she was able to run away to a 2-1/4 length victory.
"We've always had a bit of time for her and it was a nice effort," Richards said.
"She's been immature and needed a patient approach, but she's getting there now.
"She ran well fresh-up at Te Rapa, when getting back and making good ground, and today she was able to utilise a better barrier (3), camp in behind them, and with the addition of blinkers she really smartened up. I thought she was quite impressive the last bit and got away to win well."
The daughter of Savabeel will now be set on a path towards the Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November.
"It looks as though she's got better things in store, and we'll certainly give her the opportunity of contesting some of the better fillies races," Richards said.
"Where her next start is, I'm not entirely sure, but we'll play around and make a plan."
Vadamos filly strong on debut
Three-year-old filly Magic Show justified favouritism when winning over 970m in maiden company at Cambridge on Wednesday.
The daughter of Vadamos had won three trials leading into her debut and came from behind the leaders to score going away under jockey Sam Spratt.
The Tony Pike-trained filly was bred by Steve Hawkes, who shares in the ownership with a syndicate.
"She has shown us plenty of ability all the way through, with three trials for three wins," Pike said.
"She has just wanted to go a touch keen from time-to-time, but in her last trial, and again today, she would have learnt a lot.
"She looks an extremely progressive filly and is entered in the 1000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) but that is probably going to come up a little bit quick for her, but she has got plenty more wins in store."
Magic Show is by Rich Hill Stud's Group One-winning miler Vadamos, whose eldest are three and include last Saturday's Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) winner Art De Triomphe.
"She is the sort of filly coming into the autumn, she could win a reasonably nice three-year-old race," Pike said.
"As she learns to settle and be a bit more tractable, I think she will stretch out to a mile. She has got plenty of natural brilliance and how far she goes distance wise, we're not quite sure. She was very strong through the line today, so she will definitely get up over further."