IN Racing
Marsh pondering Group One target for mare
Stephen Marsh will work through his future options with the in-form Zee Falls after she runs at Pukekohe on Saturday with handicap and weight-for-age avenues to consider.
NZ Racing Desk | February 16, 2023
Photo: Trish Dunell

Stephen Marsh will work through his future options with the in-form Zee Falls after she runs at Pukekohe on Saturday with handicap and weight-for-age avenues to consider.

The Cambridge trainer is expecting another top performance from the mare in the Gr.2 ATR Avondale Cup (2400m) and has also tipped a bold showing from stablemate and race rival Lincoln King, whose following outing is set in stone.

Marsh has a number of other strong chances on the card with last-start winner Andalus in the Gr.2 AJC Avondale Guineas (2000m) and particularly with El Vencedor in the Mount Shop Handicap (1200m).

Zee Falls followed up a gallant third in the Gr.3 Queen Elizabeth Cup (2400m) with an authoritative victory in the Karaka Cup (2200m) and the daughter of Sacred Falls breezed through that run.

“She’s done really well since, she’s got a good draw and the track is coming back and improving,” Marsh said.

“It’s a good field with some nice up and coming stayers, but I’m sure she’s going to be competitive again, she’s going really well.”

While Zee Falls is entered for the Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m), she isn’t certain to follow through with the nomination.

“She’s not definitely going there, we’ll see how she comes through this race and make a plan, but she’s not guaranteed to go to the Cup,” Marsh said.

“There is the Group One (Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes, 2050m) on March 11 and it will be interesting to see what is around for a race like that. I’m just not sure which way to go just yet.”

However, last season’s Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m) winner Lincoln King is confirmed to go down the Auckland Cup path following the Shocking gelding’s last-start fourth, albeit a distant one, on a heavy surface.

“He was good at Tauranga and is coming right at the right time and he will run in the Cup, for sure,” Marsh said.

“The key is getting him onto a better track and I think he is the big improver.”

Vinnie Colgan will ride Lincoln King, Wiremu Pinn will partner Zee Falls and Michael McNab will be aboard Andalus in the Waikato Guineas.

The gelding, a multiple stakes placegetter last term, appreciated the step up to 1600m last time out at Te Rapa for an overdue maiden success.

“He has gone some nice races in strong company and it was nice to see him put it all together and sprint so well, that gave us all confidence,” Marsh said.

“He’s taken nice improvement and has had a decent gap between runs. He’ll run well and will be primed for the New Zealand Derby (Gr.1, 2400m).

“His preparation has been aimed at that and we’ve given him a limited amount of racing, he’s a very athletic type and doesn’t need a lot and I’m very happy with him.”

Marsh is also bullish about the open sprint prospects of the genuine El Vencedor, who has been racing well in a stronger grade.

“He has to be a strong chance, he looks potentially our best on paper,” he said.

“He’s going very well and his last-start second in stakes company was great and he looks very well placed.”

El Vencedor will be ridden by Pinn, who was aboard when the Shocking four-year-old finished runner-up at his most recent appearance in the Gr.3 Concorde Handicap (1200m) over Saturday’s course and distance.

Andalus Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes El Vencedor Gr.1 New Zealand Derby Gr.2 AJC Avondale Guineas Gr.2 ATR Avondale Cup Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Gr.3 Concorde Handicap Gr.3 Queen Elizabeth Cup Lincoln King Michael McNab Mount Shop Handicap Pukekohe Park Sacred Falls Shocking Stephen Marsh Vinnie Colgan Wiremu Pinn Zee Falls