Zabeel plan for quality mare

Devise’s connections are hoping for a knock-out blow from their well-performed mare on Boxing Day.
The daughter of Darci Brahma finished runner-up behind Bonneval in last season’s Gr.1 New Zealand Oaksand she will get her chance to go one better at the top level in the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie.
“She’s a fantastic mare and her form is right up there with the best in New Zealand,” said Shaune Ritchie, who trains her for breeders The Oaks Stud.
“We’ll probably run her in a Rating 85 mile on Waikato Cup day and then the Zabeel Classic, it’s a race we think she can be very competitive in.”
Devise, who also placed at Group Two and Three level last term, was spelled after an unsuccessful tilt at the Gr.1 ATC Oaks (2400m) in the autumn and two runs this preparation have been encouraging.
The half-sister to the Group One performer Zurella resumed on a top note when defeating a Rating 85 line-up over 7 f at Ellerslie and was then third over the same trip behind the highly-regarded Love Affair at Pukekohe.
“In her first-up run she sat three wide all the way and then second-up over 7 f again was trainer error, she was looking for a mile,” Ritchie said.
Meanwhile, he has welcomed an old favourite back into the stable with Sultan Of Swing returning from his brother Craig’s Warwick Farm yard.
The Bachelor Duke five-year-old won three times for Ritchie before he crossed the Tasman where he was a minor placegetter in all three of his starts.
“He’s back from Sydney and we’re starting to pick up the pace with him,” Ritchie said.
“He’ll trial pre-Christmas and then we’ll give him a run, he could be ideal in some nice mile races off the minimum.”

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