NZ Briefs for 15th February 2018

Injury side-lines Dijon Bleu for season; Group One meeting to Hawke’s Bay; Derby bases covered
Injury side-lines Dijon Bleu for season
Top filly Dijon Bleu is out of the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) and won’t race again this season.
She was the pre-post favourite for the Trentham feature following her hollow win in the Gr.2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa.
“Dijon Bleu has been officially withdrawn from the New Zealand Oaks today and will be turned out for the rest of the season,” trainer Lisa Latta said.
“We thought after the Waikato race she had simply knocked a leg, but after consultation with my vet and taking the horse’s best interest into consideration, we have decided it is best to send her for a spell. We are looking forward to seeing her back as a four-year-old.”
Group One meeting to Hawke’s Bay
The Gr.1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic meeting on February 24 has been moved from Otaki to Hastings.
The decision to transfer the fixture was made by the Otaki-Maori Racing Club, in conjunction with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, following concerns over the state of the track.
“There were a combination of reasons for the decision to transfer,” Otaki-Maori Racing Club general manager Ben Jamison said. “The weather has not been on our side, with floods through the winter, which aggravated a drainage problem in the back straight, followed by a semi-drought.
“This led to problems with the grass growth and there was also less time than usual between the two harness meetings and the Haunui Classic meeting.”
Vase next for Oaks hope
The Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie on March 3 has been confirmed as Gold Spice’s next move.
“She’ll run there and all going well on to the New Zealand Oaks,” said Graeme Richardson, who trains the filly at Matamata with Gavin Parker.
A daughter of Rock ‘n’ Pop, Gold Spice has been lightly-tried and overcame a heavy track last time out at Pukekohe to break her maiden at her third appearance.
“She hated the ground and was never travelling like a winner so it was good to see her get the job done, we’ve always liked her,” Richardson said.
Derby bases covered
Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young have autumn hopes of a trans-Tasman classic double.
Persian Empire will run in Saturday’s Gr.2 Electrolux Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie ahead of the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) while two stablemates kick of their Gr.1 ATC Derby (2400m) campaigns at Flemington.
Sully and Main Stage, second and fifth respectively in the Gr.1 VRC Derby (2500m), resume in the Gr.3 C. S. Hayes Stakes (1400m).
“I really can't split them, they've done all their work together all the way through and they've trialled up together and we can't separate them in the trials,”Busuttin said.
“Sully might be a touch sharper over 7 f, he's won over 7 f and a mile before.They are there to win if they are good enough, it's a Group Three and they are hard to get.”

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