Two-Year-Olds Take Centre Stage29 Mar 2019
New Zealand will see the running of the last “major” race for the two-year-olds on Saturday when the time-honoured $225,000 Group 1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes is run at Awapuni.
First run over 6 furlongs (1200m) in 1908, the Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes was extended to its current journey of 7 furlongs (1400m) in 1926 and has been run at that distance ever since. The honour roll of those who have been successful in the race makes impressive reading with the likes of Desert Gold, Defaulter, Up and Coming, Mayo Gold, Darryl’s Joy, Rich Return, Longfella, March Legend, La Mer, Summer Haze, Vin d’Amour, Lycra, Moonshine, Ballroom Babe, Happyuanunoit just some of those winners; while in more recent years Grout, Keeninsky, Kindacross, Il Quello Veloce, Recite, O’Marilyn, Melody Belle, and Avantage have continued the reputation of the race.
Westbury have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the race with Little Jamie winning the race in the Westbury ownership back in 2000, and since then our stallions have sired three individual winners of the race – Grout, Il Quello Veloce, and Marky Mark – two of these (Grout & Il Quello Veloce) bred and raised on the propeerty.
This Saturday the farm is well represented with our stallions having three of the eleven runners entered – Aalaalune, Bella Mente, and First Rock - two of these with origins beginning at Westbury.
Aalaalune (Reliable Man) is well in the market after just failing to take out the Group 1 Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie for owners Te Keeti Bloodstock and young rookie trainer Jacb McKay and the 1400m looks like it will ‘right up her alley’ judging by the powerful finishes she has put in at each of her starts to date. Aalaalune was a $230,000 yearling purchase at Karaka for Mr & Mrs Te Keeti and has a very bright future ahead of her as she heads towards her three-year-old year.
Tomorrows race sees a big effort by rookie sire El Roca to land two runners in the Group 1 finale with promising fillies Bella Mente and First Rock set to take their places. Trained by Shaune Ritchie, Bella Mente has looked well above average at each of her three starts when badly hampered at her debut and still managing to finish third, after which she defeated the talented colt Killin (Snitzel) who is now racing in Sydney from the Kris Lees stable, while her last start effort saw the filly run a brave fourth in the Group 2 Matamata Breeders Stakes behind Aretha, Rainbow Dash and Aalaalune.
The second of the El Roca fillies is the very consistent First Rock who has five starts to her name for a last win and three second placings. Trained by Debbie Sweeney at Te Awamutu, First Rock was very impressive when winning under Andrew Calder at Matamata and is another who never runs a bad race.
As it normally does, the Sires Produce has attracted a star studded line up with the Te Akau juveniles Yourdeel and Equinox among the well supported runners, as well as Group 1 performers Aretha and Aalaalune, the Baker/Forsman 2YO Holy Mongolemperor, the stakes winner Bavella and John Bary’s speedy gelding The Fugitive.