IN Racing
Aquacade targets a different Cup Day feature
“She won at Group Two level last season, so what we really want to try to do with her is get that elusive Group One win."
Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | March 08, 2024
Aquacade will contest the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on Saturday. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

A gallant fourth as favourite in last year’s Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m), quality mare Aquacade is returning to the same meeting 12 months later but setting her sights on a different race.

Cambridge Stud’s homebred daughter of Dundeel will contest Saturday’s Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie, continuing a season-long plan formulated by trainer Lance Noble and the Cambridge Stud team.

“Back at the beginning of the season, we decided to stick to weight-for-age races around 2000m with this mare,” Noble said. “That came down to the position she’d got to in the handicaps, but also the fact that there are no longer any Group One races for older horses in New Zealand over distances longer than the Livamol (2040m).

“She won at Group Two level last season, so what we really want to try to do with her is get that elusive Group One win.

“She ran a fantastic race for third in the Zabeel Classic (Gr.1, 2000m) on Boxing Day, then wasn’t far away when fifth in the Herbie Dyke (Gr.1, 2000m) after getting into a bit of an awkward position down on the inside.

“I’m really happy with the mare. I think she’s going into this race at least as well as she was before the Zabeel and Herbie Dyke. Hopefully the race will be run at a genuine tempo. It’s going to be very hard to beat Legarto, but we’re expecting her to run well.”

Noble will still have Auckland Cup representation on Saturday, this time with imported mare Terra Mitica.

The five-year-old daughter of Ulysses scored impressive victories over 2100m at Pukekohe on December 9 and over 2070m at Matamata on February 7. She was fourth in between times in the Gr.3 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2400m), and she was a close last-start seventh in the Listed Kaimai Stakes (2000m).

“We were going to run her in the Avondale Cup (Gr.2, 2400m), but we just missed that race with a minor foot problem,” Noble said. “She carried 58kg in the Kaimai Stakes and finished a length and a half away from the winner. She drops to 52.5kg for this, albeit from a tricky draw of 20.

“In an ideal preparation, she probably would have had another run over 2400m leading into this, but she’s very fit. Like a number of others in the field, we’re not totally sure about her at two miles, so we’ll just have to find out on Saturday.

“She’s certainly a very progressive mare. It’s possible that it’s come up a year too soon for her, but while you’re so far down in the weights, you have to have a go at races like these.”

Noble would love to see Terra Mitica go one better than his previous best result in an Auckland Cup.

“I had Rose Of Virginia run a big race for second in the Cup one year (behind El Soldado in 2016),” he said. “I think that was one of my very last runners from my old Matamata base before I made the move up to Karaka to train for Cambridge Stud.

“I haven’t had a lot of runners over the years, but it’s one of those iconic races that every trainer would love to win.”

Aquacade Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes Warren Kennedy Cambridge Stud Lance Noble Ulysses Terra Mitica Auckland Cup