There will be a strong Kiwi flavour in the Gr.1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Derby Day this Saturday.
New Zealand-bred mare Atishu heads the market for the A$1 million feature at $5, while second favourite Alcohol Free will be ridden by leading New Zealand hoop Opie Bosson.
Atishu will carry the colours of Go Racing, with syndicate manager Albert Bosma excited to have a runner competing on one of the biggest days in racing.
“With the prestige of Derby Day and the quality of horses, I hold it as one of the best days, if not the best day, in racing in Australasia. It is a wonderful day to be a part of,” Bosma said.
Atishu finished fifth in the race last year before winning the Gr.2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) a week later, and Bosma is hopeful she can improve on that result for trainer Chris Waller.
“She was unlucky in the race last year and arguably should have won,” Bosma said. “She has gone on and won a Group One mile (Queen Of The Turf Stakes) and she loves Flemington.”
Bosma has been pleased with her form ahead of Saturday, with the daughter of Savabeel finishing runner-up in the Gr.2 Golden Pendant (1400m) second-up and he said she can be forgiven for her 13th placed run in the Gr.1 King Charles III Stakes (1600m) last start.
“Her second run was excellent and her King Charles run was actually okay, nothing could make ground on the day,” he said.
“She has gone down to Melbourne and has worked very well this week.”
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Alcohol Free is the second fancied runner in the market at $6, and while the daughter of No Nay Never has yet to win in Australia, Bosma is wary of her class.
“Alcohol Free is a very well credentialled horse,” he said. “She is the highest-rated horse in the field and has won multiple Group Ones.
“She probably hasn’t quite lived up to the form yet in Australia that she has overseas, and she has got a couple of queries to answer, but she has got class, there is no doubt about that.
“If she returns to the form she had when she was racing in the northern hemisphere, she is clearly the horse to beat.”
While Bosma won’t be trackside himself, he said a number of the syndicate members are flying across the Tasman to cheer on their pride and joy.
“We have got quite a few owners going over and they are pretty excited. It should be a really good day,” he said.
Atishu will likely back-up at Flemington a week later, but Bosma said her target race will depend on Saturday’s outcome.
“Last year we backed her up on the last day and that is very much in line again,” Bosma said.
“You have got the Matriarch but there are another couple of good Group Ones that she could head to. She will almost certainly back-up, it just depends how she runs on Saturday to which race she heads to.”
Bosma will also be keeping close tabs on racing across the other side of the world, with Go Racing set to be represented by Je Zous in the Listed Montrose Fillies’ Stakes (1600m) at Newmarket on Saturday.
“This year we bought another two (in Europe) and the first of those is a filly called Je Zous,” Bosma said.
“She has had two starts as a two-year-old and she won her last start very easily. She runs in the Montrose fillies Listed race at Newmarket over a mile. She has headed over to England from Ireland for that race.”