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Trainer puts mare’s return to form down to timing

Lisa Latta wasn’t surprised by a career-best performance from longshot China Star on her home track on Friday.
She said the daughter of Chinese Dragon invariably found her best form in the autumn and that she did at Awapuni with victory in the Gr.3 LJ Hooker Manawatu Breeders’ Stakes (2000m).
“She always seems to come right at this time of the year and we gave her a trial 10 days ago at Foxton that cleaned her up nicely.”
China Star’s performance has now earned the seven-year-old, who is part-owned by New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association president John Fokerd, a third crack at a northern fillies’ and mares’ weight-for-age feature.
“She’ll go to the Travis Stakes after this, she was fourth in it last year,” Latta said.
China Star, who also finished fifth in the Te Rapa contest in 2016, was given a cosy run in the trail on Friday by Robert Hannam, who has now ridden the seven-year-old in five of her six career successes.
“It was a strong win and Robbie summed things up perfectly,” Latta said. “He said there would be good speed in the race and, even though she likes to lead, he was happy to take the trial with her.”
China Star was off the fence before the turn to hit the front at the top of the straight and she held on tenaciously in the run to the post to beat All In Vogue and Royal Ruby.
“It was nice to give Robbie his first Group winner since coming back,” Latta said.
She has enjoyed a long association with Hannam, who recently returned from injury after breaking a leg in a barrier incident last September which cut short his second riding stint in India, with more than a century of wins together.

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