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NZ Briefs for 05th March 2019

Gundown armed for Auckland Cup tilt;Sydney trip on the cards for Ballymore pair;Avondale Cancelled
Gundown armed for Auckland Cup tilt
Cambridge galloper Gundown could breakthrough for his first victory at black-type level on Saturday when he lines-up in the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained gelding has been runner-up at Group level in the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) and Gr.2 Championship Stakes (2100m) last season and his connections are hoping he can go one better on Saturday.
The son of High Chaparral heads into the two-mile feature in winning form after taking out the Nathans Memorial (2200m) at Ellerslie last weekend and his trainers believe he will be well suited to the 2 m distance of Saturday’s contest.

“He looks like a horse that might get the Auckland Cup distance,” Baker said. “He is a promising young stayer and he’s bred to stay.
“He’s had a good background this season, so he’s done the mileage, he’s very fit.”
Baker said Gundown will likely be ridden off the pace and is hoping his charge can get some luck in the run home.
“He gets back in running and when you are a back runner you run into problems and he has had a bit of bad luck throughout his career,” Baker said.
“But that’s the way it goes, that’s his racing pattern.”
Sydney trip on the cards for Ballymore pair
Trainers Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard are eyeing autumn Sydney Classic targets with two of their runners after pleasing performances at Ellerslie on Saturday.
Pinmedown was victorious in the Gr.3 Sunline Vase (2100m) and will now head to Trentham later this month to contest the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m).
If she performs well there, Moroney indicated a trip across the Tasman is likely for the daughter of Pins.
“Our plan all the way through has been to get her across (to Australia) for something like the AJC Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m),” Moroney said.
“The New Zealand Oaks form usually reads quite well for that. It doesn’t look that strong a year to so if she performs well enough the AJC Oaks will be on the cards.”
Moroney was also pleased with Arrogant’s fourth-placing in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) and he could join his stablemate across the Tasman with the Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Gr.1 Australian Derby likely targets.
“We have always been confident about this horse, he has any amount of ability,” Moroney said.
“He has been a little bit colty, but he is starting to wear that well now and Pam said all of a sudden he has quietened down and accepted he has to be a race horse.
“He could have a possible tilt at the Rosehill Guineas, into the Derby. I don’t think it is beyond him at all.”
Avondale Cancelled
The Avondale races on Thursday have been cancelled due to a lack of entries.
The cancellation continues a worrying trend for the Auckland-based track, with just 61 starters greeting the starter across eight races at the club’s previous meeting on February
There are additional races to be added to Matamata and Te Aroha meetings next week.
Ladies First side-lined
Last year’s Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m) winner Ladies First has suffered a set-back that will see her autumn campaign shelved.
The Allan Sharrock-trained mare had been on a path to the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) but pulled up sore after finishing tenth in the Gr.1 Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic (1600m).
“It’s a minor strain in a tendon, so she will probably have three months to get over it,” Sharrock said.
“With three months off, she will be fine.
“She had come up really, really well and I was quite excited.
“Her run at Otaki was probably a little bit bemusing. It was a pass, but it wasn’t what I wanted. Then on Sunday she was sore and I thought it might have been a stone bruise but it turns out it was a slight tear in the tendon.”
Ladies First has won nine of her 24 starts to date including three at stakes level.

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