IN Racing
Lofty’s Gift On Song for Riccarton test
Southland trainer Robert Dennis is making the long trek north to Riccarton with two contenders for their Saturday meeting, including Lofty’s Gift who is shooting for her fifth straight win in the Taggart Earthmoving Rating 75 (2000m).
Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | June 21, 2024
Lofty's Gift (outside) will be vying for her fifth straight win at Riccarton on Saturday. Photo: Monica Toretto

Southland trainer Robert Dennis is making the long trek north to Riccarton with two contenders for their Saturday meeting, including Lofty’s Gift who is shooting for her fifth straight win in the Taggart Earthmoving Rating 75 (2000m).

Lofty’s Gift transferred to Dennis’ Ascot Park barn earlier this year from Cambridge trainers Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray, running fourth in her Southland debut before putting together a picket fence form line.

It is pretty exciting to have a horse going for five wins in a row,” Dennis said.

“In a way she drops back in grade but it is probably a more competitive field than what she has been beating.

“She has come through her racing really well, I think she is going as good as ever, she can get through those (Heavy 10) track conditions, so I think she has got to be a good chance.”

The daughter of Ghibellines has been lumbered with top weight of 60kg but will get the benefit of apprentice jockey Donovan Cooper’s claim from barrier four.

“Donovan’s claim gets her down to 57 kilos,” Dennis said. “There is not a big spread in the weights with the minimum being 55kg and the max is 58.5kg. She is about smack bang in the middle, and I am happy enough with her weight for her rating.”

Saturday will be her furthest trip away from home since being based in the south, but that poses no concern for Dennis.

“She obviously travelled down from the North Island when she came to us. We are on the way up (to Christchurch now) so we will see how she gets on overnight, but with her attitude and nature I don’t think it will be a worry,” he said.

Dennis is excited about the future with the mare and is eyeing some big spring targets with her if she continues on her upward trajectory.

“We will just see how we go on Saturday. Talking with the owners, maybe we target a New Zealand Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) in spring,” he said.

“It is exciting to be gunning for five wins in a row, so we will concentrate on tomorrow first and work things out from there.”

Lofty’s Gift is being joined on the float trip north by stablemate On Song, who is looking to recapture form in the Optimise Fertilisers & Equi-lise Rating 75 (1400m).

The four-year-old mare won two consecutive races before finishing seventh and ninth in her last two outings, with Dennis believing the Heavy track conditions will be ideal for her this weekend.

“She wasn’t bad last time, she wasn’t too far away, she was stuck out wide, and she missed the kick,” he said. “She is certainly looking for the 1400m. The track at Wingatui played a lot better than the Heavy 8. The wetter track at Riccarton will bring her right into play.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday Dennis was happy enough with Magic Ace’s placing in the Harold Pateman 65 (1600m) at Oamaru.

“A bad draw (10) was his undoing,” Dennis said. “He jumped out really well and found himself four-wide on the speed the whole way. It was a hard run, but he stuck to his task well and it looks like he will get over a bit of ground and shouldn’t be far off from winning a race.”

Further north at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale at Karaka, Dennis was on the buyers sheet following lot 47 going through the ring.

“I bought a lovely Noverre filly out of a Pins mare for $30,000,” he said. “I am really happy with her, she is a lovely moving filly who is going to come down to Woodlands and grow out down here and hopefully she has got a little bit of class about her. There is a bit of hype around Noverre so I am very happy to have one from the first crop by him.

“She will be syndicated in time. We are up around the 300 owners with our horses now and we always get a good mix of new and existing owners come into any new horse we get.

“The stable is growing, we are taking on another staff member next week and getting a few more boxes and paddocks at Ascot Park racecourse.”

Dennis has had plenty of success buying younger stock over the last few years, and he is hoping his strike rate can continue with his recent purchase.

“I picked two (weanlings) out before, one was Make Believe who won five, and I paid $7,000 for her. The other was Goldies Chance who I picked out for one of the owners for $21,000 and she is a Listed winner and is still racing,” he said.

“Four of the last fillies I have picked out at the yearling sales are stakes performers, they have all won, and all been good value around that $20-25,000 mark. Hopefully we can keep it up.”

Lofty's Gift Robert Dennis On Song