NZ Briefs for 05th August 2019

Setback for Tommyra; Derby ballot exemption for Guineas placegetters; Perfect Sandown result for Amy McDonald;

Setback for Tommyra

Talented Matamata hurdler Tommyra has been sidelined until next year.

Trainer Toby Autridge had both the Grand National Hurdles (4200m) at Riccarton on Wednesday and the Great Northern Hurdle (4190m) at Ellerslie next month on the radar for Tommyra after he won the K.S. Browne Hurdles (3350m) at Ellerslie on June 3.

However, Tommyra was pulled up with three fences to jump in the Wellington Hurdles (3400m) at Trentham last month.

"At the 3 f he looked like he could win, but within five strides he was gone," Autridge said. "He choked and Shaun (Phelan, jockey) had to pull him Afterwards we found out he had a soft palate that needed to be operated on.

"The operation went to plan, but he's finished for this year. He is being boxed for a few weeks and there's a good chance he'll be back next year.

"A lot of horses have come back from the operation and done well so we've got our fingers crossed he can be back to have a go at the big races next year."

Derby ballot exemption for Guineas placegetters

Horses who finish in the top three placings of the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) will now be exempt from the ballot for the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m).

This amendment to the balloting conditions of the Derby comes after a recent review undertaken by the Auckland Racing Club's (ARC) management and board.

"We had an unfortunate case this year when the third placed horse in the Waikato Guineas, a race recognised as a significant lead-up event to the Vodafone New Zealand Derby, missed a start in the big race due to not earning enough stake money," ARC Executive GM of Racing & Operations, Craig Baker said. 

"Giving ballot exemption status to the first three placed horses fixes that anomaly."

It was also decided that the fourth-placed horse in the Avondale Guineas will no longer receive ballot exemption from the Derby and only horses placed in the top five in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) will have their stake earnings from that race counted towards the Derby order of entry.

"Ultimately, we did not believe it was fair that horses that were well beaten in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic had stake money count towards the order of entry in the Vodafone New Zealand Derby," Baker said. 

"We believe that including stake money for horses that finished first to fifth is a fair compromise." 

Nominations for the 2020 $1 million Vodafone New Zealand Derby close in November with the race to be run at Ellerslie Racecourse as part of Auckland Cup Week on Saturday, February 29.

Perfect Sandown result for Amy McDonald

Amy McDonald could not have wished for a better advertisement of her skills as a jumps trainer than the victory of Master Poet at Sandown.

Ridden by Richard Cully and carrying the colours of champion jumper Wells who won the Crisp earlier in the day, Master Poet raced to a comprehensive victory in Sunday's MRC Membership Renewal Hurdle (3400m).

McDonald trains a small team at Ballarat, predominantly jumpers, and said Sunday's victory would do wonders for her career.

Master Poet was sourced in New Zealand by McDonald's husband Lee Horner who partnered stablemate Flying Agent into fourth place in Sunday's event.

"It's a very good result for the owners who have had a bit of faith in us with this horse," McDonald said.

"My husband Lee sourced this horse out of New Zealand and the owners were pretty keen to get him over here as a potential chaser.

"I thought his run at Pakenham (second) was sensational and he's tidied up beautifully."

With only six horses in work and a capacity of McDonald is hands-on with her team.

She says it is hard watching from the stands as her horses go out to contest their races.

"You think you've got them right but you're giving control away to the jockeys which is really difficult," McDonald said.

"He's done a great job as he's travelled a lot better today with the blinkers on.

"I've got thank to Steve Pateman who said to put them back on after he rode him at Pakenham last time.

"I'm just ecstatic."

With the jumps season nearing an end, McDonald will allow Master Poet to progress through the grades.

"Who knows, he could be a Grand National horse next year," she said.

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